The Clinical Cases Uncovered (CCU) series from Wiley-Blackwell was designed to help medical students prepare for the wards by featuring realistic case presentations followed by queries and discussions. For those less familiar, the CCU series represents an alternative to the Case Files series which was very popular among American medical students preparing for shelf exams or rotations on the wards and clinics.

There are almost 20 subjects covered in the Clinical Cases Uncovered series, including volumes dedicated to several medical sub-specialties, such as cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, hepatology, and infectious diseases, among others.

Each clinical case discussed in the CCU series takes students through the history-taking, physical examination, laboratory findings, diagnostic investigations, and management of a particular illness, featuring ample question-and-answer opportunities along the way. The authors are academic specialists, and in the case of the Haematology: CCU edition, from St. James’ Hospital in Dublin and University “La Sapienze” in Rome.

Of the many CCU volumes, the Haematology: CCU text was first released in app form for the iPhone/iPad in August 2011, with plans for the other subjects to be released in app form in the near future. The developers released a minute-long YouTube video to advertise this product. Read below the jump to see how the CCU series translates to the iPhone.

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The Haematology: CCU App home screen features links for basic science/patient approach, the clinical cases, quizzes, a search function, glossary, notes/bookmarks, in-app purchases, further information, and a user guide.

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In this review of the free portions of the app, we start with a brief mention of the user guide, which explains what purchasing the 22 additional cases (beyond the one case included for free) provides access to—all stages of each case, accompanying questions, and the ability to create notes that “stick to” a particular phrase or keyword.

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1 of the 23 cases comes free with the initial download of the app, but the other 22 cases are available via in-app purchase for $1.99 each, or $24.99 together.

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The basic science section features 36 slides teaching students about the foundations of hematology. Individual slides can be starred, notes can be taken, and text size can be changed. Users navigate through the slides by swiping horizontally across the screen, but navigation through each section is still somewhat unwieldy.

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The various slides contain abundant figures, slides, and diagrams, which can be expanded, zoomed, panned, and contain appropriate captions.

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The “Approach to the Patient” section includes 42 slides instructing users on a thorough clinical approach to a hematology patient’s complaint.

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Next, we move to the featured aspect of the CCU series, the cases themselves. Here, as we are reviewing the free version of the app, we will take a look at the first case, “a 35-year-old tired woman.”

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Each case, predictably, includes a short clinical vignette to start the case.

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However, users then traverse the remainder of the case via an easy-going question-and-answer-guided format, divided into several stages. Each case is impressively substantial and content-rich, with this sample case, for example, consisting of 27 pages. Figures and slides for further illustration are included in abundance.

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Each case also includes a case review and key points for summary purposes. The key points are also embedded throughout the case.

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Each case also contains articles for further reading and a glossary (of limited utility to most users).

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Each case contains quizzes, which are divided into multiple choice questions (MCQ’s), extended matching questions (EMQ’s), and self-assessment questions (SAQ’s). This question variety is a strength of the CCU series, and facilitates further consolidation of learning with each case.

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The MCQ’s are presented in a question-answer-feedback format.

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The SAQ’s involve free-response queries, and offer marks as a guide for suggested answers.

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The quizzes section features all of the various questions, once purchased.

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The search function facilitates finding a particular case, glossary term, or figure/table/diagram.

Pricing:

  • The Haematology: Clinical Cases Uncovered App with one case comes free for download from the app store, but the 22 additional cases may be purchased from within the app separately for $1.99 each or as a single purchase together for $24.99.
  • For comparison’s sake, the paperback version of Haematology: Clinical Cases Uncovered costs $44.27 on Amazon.com.

Likes:

  • Content-rich, in-depth hematology cases from respected authors designed to reflect a thoughtful clinical approach to patients
  • MCQ’s, EMQ’s, and SAQ’s accompany each clinical case
  • Wide range of medical subspecialties covered in the CCU series

Dislikes:

  • As with Case Files, this text-heavy resource is not as ideal for the iPhone as the iPad
  • Only contains 23 cases (versus 60 cases for Case Files: Internal Medicine)
  • Pricing– only one case comes free with the app; users must purchase access to the other 22 cases
  • Flipping pages by swiping across the screen came off as a surprisingly difficult maneuver when using the app, making navigation somewhat troublesome

Conclusion:

  • We encourage consideration of the App format of the Clinical Cases Uncovered series, which carries more content and is relatively-similarly-priced ($25 vs $30), but contains fewer cases, as an alternative or even supplement to the Case Files series for medical students.
  • For medical students planning to purchase the paperback version of Haematology: CCU for upwards of $40, we recommend purchasing the full app version for $25.

iTunes Link