As I mentioned in my last post, having a record of home blood pressure (BP) measurements is often extremely useful for internal medicine and geriatrics.
I’ve been recommending that older patients have a good home blood pressure monitor for quite some time, but which monitor to recommend?
This is a question that’s been stumping me for quite a while. You’d think we’d have lots of options, when it comes to suggesting a BP monitor that makes it easy to collect, share, and make use of an older person’s BP data. But so far I haven’t come across much.
Here’s what I’m looking for specifically, in a home BP monitor for older adults:
- Does not require a smartphone or tablet in order to view the BP readings. I think it’s hard enough to get people to strap on a cuff regularly. They should not need to connect an additional device as well. And, they should be able to see what their BP and pulse is, right away, without attaching anything else.
- Easily transfers BP & pulse data to a place where it can be reviewed, queried, and shared. In this day and age, easy means wirelessly. And the data should be easy to share with family, and with multiple providers.
- Available for iOS and Android. I’m not persuaded that requiring BP data to transfer via mobile device is the best solution. (I think BP cuffs that transmit to the cloud via wi-fi might be a simpler for many older adults.) But for those solutions that do this, I am looking for devices that can be used with either iOS or Android.
- Arm cuff. Arm cuffs are the standard in medicine; if we are collecting data for clinicians to take action, we should offer clinicians something they trust. Wrist cuffs are much more sensitive to position, so it’s tricker to get a valid reading. And don’t even mention Wello & the other devices which measure BP by touching the fingers; this technology is intriguing but the BP measurements will need a lot of validation before clinicians will be comfortable with this. (The tech press somehow never explains just how these new smartphone cases are going to check your blood pressure.)
- Easily purchased by a regular person. I’m looking for something that people can buy on their own, for themselves or for an older person. Maybe their primary care doc — or geriatrician consultant– suggested it, maybe not. This means that the purchasing interface has to be consumer-friendly. Enterprise-style devices that are meant to be sold to hospitals or big primary care clinics are not ideal.
It would also be nice for the device to have enough consumer reviews for us all to have a sense of quality and usability. Barring that, a good warranty/customer service reputation could go a long way in reassuring families that this new-fangled device isn’t going to be a risky purchase.
A brief survey of the tech-enhanced BP monitors I’ve considered:
I haven’t done an in-depth survey, I’ve just asked around and done a little Googling. (In other words, I’ve looked in the way that the average doc is likely to look, if they bother to look at all.) Here’s what I’ve come across:
- Withings BP monitor: Withings seems to have released a new version of its BP monitor this year. It now works wirelessly via Bluetooth, and is compatible with iOS and Android. The data can be reviewed via app and desktop. However, it doesn’t show BP results without mobile device. Unclear how many BP readings it can store on its own.
- iHealth BP monitor: Wireless BP cuff. Seems to use Bluetooth, compatible with iOS, not super clear if compatible with Android. Unclear just how data gets shared with doctors, and whether this can be done outside of mobile app. Like Withings, doesn’t seem to show BP results without mobile device.
- Blipcare BP monitor: Wireless BP cuff that uses wi-fi rather than Bluetooth. Data can be viewed via smartphone apps, or can be viewed online. This monitor does show BP results directly.
Of note, the well-established company Omron does not seem to currently offer a BP monitor with wireless capabilities. They do offer a monitor that connects to PC via USB cable, which sounds like the tech of 5 years ago to me and I wouldn’t recommend it to patients today.
After browsing for options this past month, I’ve decided to try the Blipcare monitor, for an older patient who is in assisted-living. This patient does not have a smartphone or tablet, but does have active issues related to hypertension and atrial fibrillation.
Of note, Blipcare does mention on its website that its monitor is simple and suitable for older people. I also found this review on iMedicalApps.com, in which the author seems to successfully use this device for his father.
If it works well, I’ll try to report back.In the meantime, if you can recommend a home BP monitor for older adults, please let me know.