iPhone Saying Hello

How It All Began

February, 2019 | By Michael Guren

Let me introduce myself. My name is Michael Guren, and I am the creator and developer for Pocket Pharmacist, the all-in-one drug guide and medication app.

It was the summer of 2010, and I had been a Pharmacist for roughly 10 years. Technology had become an interest of mine, and in my spare time, I was teaching myself the basics of computer programming and web design. Steve Jobs had recently announced the iOS App Store, and I was ready to take my new found skills to the next level, but what should I create? What would I find helpful and informative in an app?

So, I thought about what I wanted in my day-to-day life as a practicing Pharmacist and realized that I really wanted a drug information app that was easy-to-use and to-the-point without any medical jargon. Something that I could use on the job, but also recommend to friends and family. Everything on the market at the time was more like an encyclopedia. Getting "just the facts" took too much effort and the information was nearly incomprehensible to non-healthcare professionals.

I thought to myself, “That’s it! I will summarize medications myself, in a language that my own mother can understand, and include these drug summaries within an iPhone app.” It only took a couple months to have version 1.0 ready for submission to the Apple App Store. In August of 2010, Pocket Pharmacist was born. It was released with only 100 drug summaries. The app had two screens: 1) a simple table listing the drugs that I have summarized, 2) a feedback button.

Within a few hours of releasing Pocket Pharmacist to the world, I received several emails from users sharing their feedback. How cool! Here was my little pet project already being used by the public. I was excited and nervous at the same time. Would users find my drug summaries helpful? Would the drug summaries be too basic?

It turns out that almost everyone who emailed me through the app thought the drug summaries were very helpful. They felt like they were talking to a live Pharmacist. However, many users wished there were more than 100 drug summaries available. That’s when I got to work.

Over the years, I have summarized as many medications as I could while balancing my life as a husband, new father, fantasy football maven, and my day job. I am proud to say that Pocket Pharmacist now contains over 1,800 drug summaries (which is approximately 95% of all prescribed drugs in the U.S.). Also, I have been able to add user-requested features, such as automatic drug interaction checker, flash card and multiple-choice quizzes, and a medication organizer.

What started as a hobby has become an invaluable resource for thousands of people around the world. In some ways we’re just getting started. I am committed to helping people quickly find the drug information they need, and better yet, understand what they read!