Welcome to your dog-eared Merck Manual on steroids.

The ubiquity of mobile phones makes them ideal platforms for consumer health. Simple health messaging on a simple cell phone can help consumers comply with therapeutic regimens, like blood glucose monitoring and medication adherence.

Imagine what can be done when the simple cell morphs into, say, an iPhone?

A.D.A.M., the , is now offering the Symptom Navigator for the iPhone, to enable what the company calls, “Health on the go!” (the exclamation point is theirs).

A.D.A.M.’s PR describes the Symptom Navigator as, “a v
ast knowledgebase of health symptoms at your fingertips!…From chest pain to fever, sprain, and upset stomach, you can access up-to-date, expert-reviewed medical content. The tool will help you determine what your symptoms mean, whether to self-treat, and when to seek professional medical attention.”

This new, mobile version, is a new generation of the Symptom Navigator, which has been featured on various medical center websites including Duke University Health System, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Methodist Medical Center, and the University of Wisconsin health system.

How it works: the consumer with an iPhone downloads the Symptom Navigator. The first screen of the Navigator is a human body, seen in the photo on the left. The consumer clicks onto the part of the body she’s concerned about, and clicks through menus of symptoms, causes, and responses for self-care.

A.D.A.M., which stands for “Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine,” has been involved in health knowledge and education since 1994. When A.D.A.M.’s digital atlas of anatomy was first available on CD-ROM, it cost $2,295. Then, it was an important innovation for medical students and hospital libraries. Today, a consumer can buy the Illustrated Family Health Guide for $14.95.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: A.D.A.M.’s iPhone project represents several key points about the emerging era of health care: it’s consumer-facing at the extreme, for health-empowered and -engaged people; it’s engaging and interactive; and, it’s mobile. This is the beginning of what will be a next-generation of information services that help consumers self-manage their health. Mobility, credibility, utility, and ease-of-use will be the critical success factors.