by: Danielle Jones, MS3
Being able to glance at a patient’s lab values and recognize when something isn’t right is a skill developed over time, mostly through the experience of seeing the normals and abnormals of various test results many times over.
The iPhone Lab Values Quiz by Ajay Vanumu aims to make the process of recognizing these values appeal to the competitive side in all of us by turning lab values into a quiz-format game.
But, can a game revolving around laboratory values really hold your attention?
The app has a well-designed interface with simplicity and attractive graphics working in its favor. The opening screen shows three basic options , each accessible with a quick finger-swipe on the gray bar at the bottom of the screen.
In the review section, the user is offered a choice of any combination of the 12 areas covered by the app (Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Hematology, Hepatology, Hormones, Immunology, Nephrology, Nutrition, Pregnancy, Pulmonology, Tumors, Wards) for review. The user-friendly interface breaks down a bit here, as I used the app for a significant period of time before realizing there were 7 sections in addition to the five which initially appear on the screen.
A scroll bar or indication that there are more options in this area would be nice. This capability is briefly mentioned in the intro guide, but placing a scroll indication in the actual app seems more main-stream and is definitely appropriate. The review section gives quiz questions in a multiple choice format and tracks correct & incorrect answers at the base of the screen.
When the right choice is identified and chosen you are pushed through to the next question, while incorrect answers invoke a red screen & small vibration. This section serves as a “practice area” before moving on to the real quiz-taking section, where formatting changes a bit and points begin to matter.
In the quiz section the user is again given the choice of topics to be covered before entering into the quiz. The issue of not-so-obvious scrolling capability arises once more when choosing areas of study in this section. The quizzes are not timed but, unlike the review section, you don’t get second chances.
This area of the app brings up a lab value and asks the user to choose whether it is in the normal reference range, too high or too low. The interface in this area is nice, with finger-swipe interaction making the game interactive and interesting. At the end a percentage score is given, along with a proverb of sorts depending on the user’s score.
The global section offers access to the app’s leader board through Game Center, your personal achievement is on a scale of “Fetus to Quantum Leap” and the Launch Challenge where you can see how your lab value knowledge holds up against other quizzers around the world.
This section is basically identical to the “quiz” area, but points count and are based on a number of correct answers over the course of “five lives.” One wrong answer counts as a life and the goal is to beat high scores of past users.
Though lab value reference ranges obviously vary a bit depending on where you look, the app seems to have reliable sourcing for its values. It’s not immediately clear where the values are obtained and, although I didn’t see any blatant mistakes, it would be nice to have a reference provided. The app has a nice feature in the review section allowing you to view more information regarding the particular lab value, which can be helpful in furthering the user’s knowledge base.
Overall, this app is fun to use for a limited period of time. If you’re frequently involved in using lab values in clinical medicine, it may be more enjoyable, but as a newbie in the world of lab values, this app frustrated me more than it held my attention or taught me. That being said, the app serves its purpose well and, if used regularly, would likely aid in the proficiency of identifying normal and abnormal lab values.
- Currently $1.99
- Design & Layout
- Useful information in gaming format
- Flexibility in subject-choice & quiz-type
- Broad base of information
- Frustrating for those not regularly utilizing a huge array of lab values
- Lack of scroll bar to identify sections with additional scrolling capability
- Covers information generally not considered absolutely necessary to know by memory unless being used on a very regular basis
- The Lab Values Quiz app is well-designed and relatively easy to use, serves its purpose well-enough and appeals to the competitor in us all
- Area of Use: Studying, Games , Lab Values
- However, it may be hard to find a very large niche of people willing to regularly use an app covering such a broad base of information that isn’t typically considered imperative for memorization
- This issue could interfere with the whole premise of the game, which is the goal of allowing global competition in lab value proficiency
- The app would likely be quite beneficial for those taking a class requiring knowledge of very specific lab values, but others may find it to be less like a relaxing game and more like a cumbersome frustration
- So, while the app itself has only minor issues and seems to be well-made and reliable, it doesn’t strike me as a must-have for the majority of students and practitioners in clinical medicine