By: Rajat Kumar, MS3

The number of things for which physicians can send tests seems to be growing at an exponential rate. And as we continue to gain insight into the biologic and biochemical basis of medical conditions, physicians use these tests even more to diagnose disease, follow progression, and assess effectiveness of therapy.

And as any medical student can tell you, interpreting lab values is a skill that takes time to master. Pocket Lab Values by developer Joefrey Kibuule – who is also a medical student – for the iOS platform attempts to provide healthcare professionals with a concise guide to common labs with reference values and the correlating clinical conditions in an easily accessible reference at the point-of-care. Though well-designed, it has some important limitations that we found limiting for its overall value.

Immediately on opening the app, the home screen presents thirteen simple categories, ranging from cardiology to electrolytes to toxicology; all told, the app contains more than 200 lab values.

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On opening a category, the user sees a brief view of contained lab tests and their reference ranges.

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Opening a particular topic, there is a brief presentation regarding the lab value in question.  Reference ranges (and critical values if pertinent), pertinent differential diagnoses, websites for reference (ranging from Medlineplus to Wikipedia), and related labs make up the rest of the topic. One crucial limitation that stands out at this point is the relative weakness of the references documented in the app.

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Many lab values, such as the Lipid Panels and Endocrine, have been subdivided by gender and age also.

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The “Favorites” and “Recent” features allow the user to bypass browsing categories to quickly access commonly encountered labs.

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Price:

$2.99 from the Appstore

Likes:

  • Developed by a medical student
  • Quick, simple presentation of lab values with a list of conditions for increased and decreased values
  • Easy to use

Dislikes:

  • Some odd categorizations (Beta-HcG in Oncology, Urine Drug Screen under Renal), which could be improved.
  • The related websites should have more authoritative references than Wikipedia and Google search

Conclusion:

  • At $2.99, it would be an affordable purchase for medical professionals.
  • As most institutions have their own set points for normal, the app utility may be limited as a result.
  • Lacking in appropriate references
  • Overall, a decent application perhaps best used as a quick reference, but needs some work before it can be considered a reliable app.