There are a few different medical apps that provide you with reference lab values. I’m going to go through each one to see how they compare to each other and see which ones are the most useful in the wards/clinic. The main four in the App Store are Pocket Lab Values ($2.99), Normal Lab Values ($1.99), MedRef ($0.99), and Lab Tests ($5.99). Each medical app overlaps a decent amount of information, but there are definitely significant differences. Epocrates also has a lab values section, but you need to be a premium member in order to use it (expensive). A key thing to note is different hospitals can have different reference ranges (depending on how their in-house lab works), so always make sure your hospital’s references ranges match up with the app you use. With that said, the reference ranges are usually pretty universal. Anyways, let the battle begin.
This post will discuss how these different medical apps stack up to each other.
Lab Tests ($5.99):
-Gives an excellent amount of information for each lab value.
-Tells you what High and Low values for the particular lab might mean, providing great differentials.
-Gives you the option to learn more about the lab value with an extra information tab
-gives you the citations and references to the information provided.
-It would be nice if they started off the descriptions with the lab values. Sometimes you need to scroll down to see them.
-Is more expensive than the other medical lab value apps.
Pocket Lab Values($2.99):
-Has a nice user interface and nice aesthetics.
-Ability to search and make bookmarks. Separates the labs by category.
-Each lab value has a small description about the particular value.
-Does a great job of linking Wikipedia, MedlinePlus, and Google within the app itself.
-The small amount of information provided on each lab value could be expounded upon.
-It would be nice to see more information about high vs. low lab values.
-Opens up to the search page for lab values (not shown in picture).
-Easy to use.
-Has a charting section that can be used for Admit Orders, H&P, Neuro Exam, Progress note, and more.(shown in picture)
-Also has a reference section separated into systems. These reference sections don’t have a plethora of data, but do have some key information. An example is the Neuro section, where you can access the dermatomes map. Only $0.99.
-Doesn’t provide any supplemental information on the lab values.
-Would be nice to see more information in the reference section.
Normal Lab Values ($1.99):
-The User Interface is straight forward.
-The app opens to the search page with all the different lab values.
-Out of the 4 medical apps, this one is the most simple, and definitely way too simple.
-It’s not aesthetically pleasing to use and no extra information is provided in the app.
Out of the four apps here, Normal Lab Values is definitely an app I would not recommend. The other apps are more sophisticated and you’ll get a better value out of them. Deciding how to rank the remaining three apps is a bit more complicated. I personally loved Lab Tests. I would find it to be the most useful to me in the wards.
It gives you the differentials for high and low lab values, and has a vast amount of high yield information that’s useful for treating patients and when getting asked random questions by attendings (pimped). I think every resident and medical student would benefit greatly from knowing the information contained in the Lab Tests app. Even though it’s a bit expensive in comparison to the apps, if you use the app on a consistent basis, it’s worth the high yield medical knowledge you’ll glean from it.
However, if you don’t need a differential for high and low lab values and you just need some quick values, then MedRef and Pocket Lab Values are the ones to decide between. I actually enjoyed the supplemental information provided in MedRef a lot (mentioned in above description). Instead of looking at my Maxwell, I’ve actually used the admit orders and discharge summary forms provided in the app while on the wards. It’s the best value out of all these apps at $0.99, but it doesn’t provide any extra information on the lab values themselves. If you want extra information about the lab values, but don’t want to spend $5.99 for the Lab Tests app, then Pocket Lab Values might be the app to choose from. The app has a nice User Interface and links to Wikipedia, MedlinePlus, and Google within the app.
At the end of the day, I’m still waiting on a lab values app that mirrors www.labtestsonline.org. I’ve used this website throughout med school and in the wards constantly. However, out of the 4 lab values apps, Lab Tests came the closest to matching this website.
1) Lab Tests ($5.99)
2) Tie – MedRef ($0.99) and Pocket Lab Values ($2.99)
4) Normal Lab values ($1.99)
**UPDATE: One of the readers made an excellent point about Epocrates having a nice lab values section. I choose not to include Epocrates in this discussion because you need to be buy their premium package in order to use the lab values section(expensive). The same is the case with the SkyScape App. These apps get the job done for significantly cheaper.