by: Guido Giunti
That medical students have it rough in regards to studying is something we are all painfully aware of. Classes are long, texts are boring, and don’t even get me started on those finals. Some topics are particularly prone to give us headaches such as “Arterial Blood Gases” or “Basic Metabolic Panels”, which is why apps and tutorials on these subjects abound.
Today we’ll take a look at “MedLab Tutor”, an app born out of Georgia Health Sciences University’s department called “Educational Design and Development,” whose aim is to provide students and their faculty members with services and mobile content to turn the faculty’s vision for “teaching with technology” into a reality.
The app loads into the main screen presenting you with three large buttons, one for each set of studies that the app covers.
At the time of writing this review, the options available are:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC)
- Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP)
- Arterial Blood Gases (ABG).
We can also tap on a little “i” icon to get information about the app and its developer.
When we select a studies set we are presented with the following options:
- Short-hand Figure
- Full Lab Report
- Interpreting lab Results
- Test your Knowledge
The short-hand figure gives us the highlights of the study and we can tap on each item to get more information on them. The information provided on each entry is usually the normal range and values, as well as brief descriptions on what the item’s relevance is and what afflictions could cause it to be altered.
What’s interesting about the Full Lab Report feature is that it brings the “Tutor” to “MedLab Tutor.”
At first we just see a table with all of the study’s items together but if we take a closer look we can find on the lower part of the screen the option to switch between this table view and two others labeled “Intro Video” and “Intro Text”. The “Intro Video” screen plays us a small video in which a narrator tells us about the study in a clear and friendly manner while the remaining option “Intro Text” is just a transcript of said video.
Although the words “dazzling” or “top-notch” aren’t what I would use to describe the videos, hearing an explanation with the aid of diagrams is always better than just reading plain text and thus it’s a great feature to have for students.
Some case examples are given under the “Interpreting Lab Results” label where once again this app surprises the user by having an audio log of the clinical case to set you in the right mood.
Finally, the usual quizzes found on these kind of apps takes the name of “Test your knowledge” and some simple questions about the studies are asked.
I am a big fan of simple and intuitive graphical interfaces and “MedLab Tutor” doesn’t really shine on that regard. While the interface is simple, the whole app feels clunky.
Also, the quiz questions may be too simple as they often just present you with a panel with only one off value (like Sodium at 120) and ask “What does this patient have?” The use of videos and audio logs are a great addition to make it friendlier and considering that this is not an approach many apps use or even consider, the app scored some points in my book for that.
- Information is accurate
- Video explanations
- Audio logs of real cases
- User interface is clunky
- Not all studies have videos/audio
- I found “Medlab Tutor” to be a reliable source of information and I fully recommend it to students.
App Version: 1.0
Phone used for review: Motorola Droid 3