It wasn’t all that long ago that a low-grade fever, chest pain, a slightly elevated white count was the basis of diagnosis for a heart attack. Now we use specific isoforms of troponin, creatinine kinase, and other markers of myocardial injury.

The ability to read and understand a wide range of laboratory test results is a crucial part of being a doctor. With the advancement of medical technology, lab tests have become more specific, accurate and often, more complicated. We recently reviewed LabDX (review here) and now we focus on one of its major competitors, Clinlab Navigator to go.

According to iTunes, Clinlab Navigator To Go:

  • provides the most comprehensive yet practical resource of clinical laboratory information for patients, physicians, medical students and laboratory professionals’
  • Over 600 laboratory test interpretations
  • Transfusion guidelines, method evaluation protocols, test utilisation guidelines and algorithms”

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The application and information within have been developed by clinlabnavigator.com, a comprehensive resource for healthcare professionals covering a wide range of laboratory related information. The mobile application essentially indexes this information and provides it in an easy to read format.

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Searching for a specific lab test is straightforward using either the index or the search function and articles regularly accessed can be added to a ‘favorites’ list for even quicker ease of use. The detail of each test typically covers the basic physiology behind the test e.g. what is actually being measured and why it is biologically relevant before covering a detailed informative section on test interpretation. This is usually backed up with relevant statistics and important points although it should be noted that this is not referenced within the app.

Each section has reference ranges for each test which is often found in a useful table format. The clinical pathology associated with each test is very detailed and aids in diagnosis. Clinlab Navigator goes further than most by explaining why the clinical pathology of a certain disease results in a change to the laboratory test value. For an example, take a look at the screenshot which explains the link between test results and pathological implications. Whilst reference ranges are provided within the app, it is important to check whether local values are the same.

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The usefulness of the app extends further than just test interpretation. The section on transfusion is highly informative at a level of detail comparable to a textbook. The writing style used within the app is explanatory, informative and concise. There is also access to the Clinlab navigator blog which offers relevant posts related to laboratory testing. The app also updates itself regularly ensuring the latest test information is available.

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Clinlab Navigator To Go is available for both iPhone and iPad and purchasing the app ensures a subscription for one year. One major shortcoming with Clinlab Navigator is the fact that an internet connection is required for full functionality. The app does not store any information locally and connects to the Clinlab Navigator server each time an article is selected. The effects of this are twofold – first the application can sometimes be slow to respond and navigate as information is downloaded to the device (note the spinning wheel in the screenshot). Secondly, hospitals notoriously have signal deadspots, at which point the application essentially becomes useless.

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Price:

  • $4.99 for both the iPhone version and iPad Version (Clinlab Navigator HD)

Likes:

  • Very thorough detailed information on a wide range of topics
  • Easy and straightforward to navigate
  • Reference ranges and background physiology are well explained and linked to common pathologies.

Dislikes:

  • Content not stored locally therefore app can sometimes be slow/inoperative

Overall:

  • Clinlab Navigator To Go has all the hallmarks of a successful medical app.
  • It contains extensive detail on a wide range of tests and at a very reasonable price.
  • This app is recommended to healthcare professionals looking for detailed information regarding lab tests however the reliance on Internet connectivity and consequent functionality must not be overlooked.

iTunes link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/clinlab-navigator-to-go/id398452437?mt=8