Buying Guide for Pulse Oximeter – A necessity during Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic is not showing any signs of slowing down, and with the raise in Covid-19 positive cases in India and world-over, a lot of people are getting home quarantined. In such a scenario, portable heath-tech products are becoming more important than ever before. One such product is the Pulse Oximeter, which is a device used for measuring blood saturation level (SpO2) and pulse rate. It is battery operated and quite portable. So, what are some of the factors to keep in mind while buying a Pulse Oximeter? Let us go through a Buying Guide for Pulse Oximeter.

Below are the list of topics we will cover.

 

Pulse Oximeter Buying Guide

Now that we have looked briefly into the what a Pulse Oximeter is, let us now delve into the question of ‘how to buy’, and what to look for? There are some basic but important questions that one must ask before making the purchase decisions.

1. How accurate is the pulse oximeter’s readings, and is the accuracy claim backed by any evidence, e.g. studies and published papers?

Ans: Usually this is a tough point to research into. Not everyone has the time, patience or requisite skill to go through research papers. A plausible advice would be to read a few reviews regarding the accuracy. Nonetheless, accuracy is quite an important feature to look for.

2. Will the pulse oximeter work for people from different age groups?

Ans: Check whether the device would work for different finger sizes. Usually this feature is not that hard to find, as most manufacturers design the device in such a way that it works for a wide range of patients.

3. What about warranty and customer service?

Ans: Long-term warranty is always a good thing. Also, search for the nearest service centre of the manufacturer.

4. Who is the manufacturer? What else do they manufacture?

Ans: A manufacturer with history of making medical devices can always be trusted. Also, a strong advice would be to go for a ‘Made in India’ device. Definitely do not go for a Chinese made product.

5. Is the display big enough?

Ans: Check whether the display on the pulse oximeter is big enough so that one can read the numbers easily. Its good to have large numbers on the display.

6. Is the display bright enough?

Ans: Check whether the display is bright enough. A pulse oximeter with backlit display makes the viewing experience better. Although colored display is a novelty, it can come in handy as well. Different color combinations can indicate different readings. Choose as per your requirement.

7. Is there an alarm or warning system?

Ans: While this is not present is every pulse oximeter, it is a very useful feature, especially if you are unaware of the normal/below normal SpO2 level and pulse rate.  The alarm system can be for three issues:

    • Low SpO2 Level
    • Low Pulse Rate
    • Low Battery

If you want to know about what is the normal SpO2 level and pulse rate for various age-ranges, click here.

8. What is the response time?

Ans: The response time for Pulse Oximeters now a days in less than 10 sec. If it is above that, look for something else.

9. Is the pulse oximeter durable?

Ans: This point is rather self-explanatory. Durability leads to longevity. Strong built quality and features like water-resistant would add to the durability of the product.

10. How is the battery life?

Ans: In certain situations, you might find the need to use the pulse oximeter frequently. Such a situation requires good battery performance. Lithium battery (which are mostly rechargeable) would be a good option to go for. It might have a higher upfront cost, but would help in the long run.

11. Is the device automatically activated?

Ans: Although every pulse oximeter would have a power ON/OFF button, the ideal situation is when the device doesn’t require powering ON manually but automatically detects a finger and is activated. It is not a very important feature though.

12. How long can it hold historical data?

Ans: You might face a situation where the patient’s vitals need to be monitored. The doctor might ask for a historical data. Such a situation would require a pulse oximeter with some in-built memory. The expensive ones can hold historical data up to 24 hrs. Such feature is not very common, and would involve higher upfront cost. It all depends on the requirement and budget.

13. Is there an option to transfer the data?

Ans: Just as mentioned in the previous point, there are devices with in-built memory which can hold the historical data for a few hours, there can be an additional feature of transferring the data as well. It will have a USB post. If you are going for a Pulse oximeter with in-build memory for storing data, then definitely look for this feature as well. Both of them go hand-in-hand.

14. Is the pulse oximeter easy to use?

Ans: Although the Pulse Oximeter being a non-invasive device is inherently easy-to-use, an easy-to-follow user guide is always helpful. If the device is Made is India or imported from an English speaking country, it will have English manual. You might even find a manual in regional languages if the device is manufactured in India. Choose as per your convenience.

15. What is the price range?

Ans: The price of a pulse oximeter varies between ₹800 and ₹12000. It is advisable to go for a brand whose price is above ₹1800. We must always remember, in these testing times, there are a lot of first copies available in the market which are cheap. Therefore, it is not advisable to go for a device which has a lower upfront cost as it won’t last long, and would subsequently results in higher cost due to multiple replacements. In short, buy good, stay relaxed.

16. Some Additional Features

  • Auto shutdown

    You don’t have to shut it down manually. When inactive for certain amount of time, the device will automatically shutdown.

  • USB cable

    If the pulse oximeter has the feature of data transfer, a complimentary USB cable would help you is the data transfer processs.

  • Lanyard

    Can be attached to the device and makes the device easy to carry. Not an important feature, but comes in handy.

  • Carrying Pouch

    Another optional feature, but definitely makes the device easy-to-carry. Also, helps in keeping the device safe and increases the longevity.

 

Types of Pulse Oximeters

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its Global Pulse Oximetry Project, clearly defines the types of pulse oximeters. As per WHO, there are three distinct groups of Pulse Oximeters. They are:

  • Finger probe pulse oximeters intended for personal use

    • These devices can measure SpO2 and pulse as a waveform and display them on numeric digital screen. They often have an adjustable alarm, are light-weight, durable and can withstand. They can even be water-resistant. They run on rechargeable batteries.
  • Hand-held units or stand alone units which focus just on oxygen saturation and pulse

    • These devices meet all of the monitoring specifications of a finger probe pulse oximeters but includes some additional features as well. The screen tends to be larger, brighter and easier to read. They will have extra alarms for low battery and poorly positioned probes. They will have an additional cable running from the probe to the display device. This means the screen can be positioned at a distance from the patient and different varieties of probes can be attached to it depending on the need. Both
      disposable and reusable probes are available; however, the annual cost of disposable probes is likely to exceed the cost of the instrument itself by a big margin. They can even have internal memory as an added feature and can be useful to record patient data for the purpose of analysis . Some have ports to allow printing of recorded data or downloading of information onto a desktop or laptop.
  • Stand-alone units which incorporate other parameters including ECG, capnography (level of Carbon Dioxide in body), or blood pressure monitoring

    • These devices have all the features of a finger pulse oximeter and a small hand-held oximeter, but have some additional features as well. There are more alarms and indicators, which are both audio and visual. The software generally is more sophisticated, which therefore reduces false negative or positive signals. This improves the accuracy. There are additional power source options as well (both battery powered as well as AC). A wide variety of probes can be attached to these types of units, and are generally available out-of-the box. Data for multiple patients can be stored, and that too over longer periods of time. Multiple modalities may be included, such as blood pressure and EKG monitoring. They are substantially less portable than the finger pulse oximeters and hand-held oximeters, and are therefore less resistant to mishandling.

Click here to view WHO’s guidelines on types of pulse oximeters (download in PDF format):

Some Decent Options Available In The Market

There are ‘n’ number of options available in the market, both offline and online. As discussed above, we are in an unprecedented situation, and some companies and sellers are trying to make the most out of it by selling fake products. We have therefore tried to clear the clutter by dividing some decent pulse oximeters available in the market into four price categories. Almost all of them have been personally tested for at least a week. Let us have a look at them.

Up to ₹3000

Pulse Oximeters in this category are priced (MRP) between ₹1800 and ₹3000. Some of the good ones are:

1. Dr. Morepen PO04 Pulse Oximeter

Features:
    • ABS Plastic & Anti-shock
    • Dual-colored OLED display
    • Easy, light and compact
    • Auto Power OFF
    • Low power consumption
    • 6 display modes
    • 30 hrs continuous operationDr.Morpen-PO04-Pulse-Oximeter

Pros

Cons

Low power consumption

No alarm

Auto power OFF & multiple display modes

Not suitable for long and continuous usage

Buy Now from Amazon

 

2. MEDITIVE Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

Features:
    • Auto Power On & Off
    • Water-Resistant
    • Buzzer- Visual Alarm
    • Light and compact
    • 1 year warranty
    • Long battery life
    • Low battery indication

Meditive-Fingertip-Pulse-Oximeter

Pros

Cons

Provides respiration rate

User manual not up to the mark

Buzzer- Visual Alarm

Not suitable for long and continuous usage

Buy Now from Amazon

 

3. AXL Med AMOX-01 Pulse Oximeter

Features:
    • Blood Saturation Level (SpO2)
    • Average Heart Rate
    • Heart Rate line graph
    • Auto Power OFF
    • One button operation
    • Low battery indicator
    • 1 year replacement warrantyAXLMed-AMOX-01-Pulse-Oximeter

Pros

Cons

Low power consumption

No alarm

Good for spot reading and auto power OFF

Not suitable for long and continuous usage

Buy Now from Flipkart

 

Between ₹3000-₹4000

Some of the options in this range are:

1. Newnik PX701 Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

Features:
    • Water-Resistant
    • Buzzer- Visual Alarm
    • Auto Power On & Off
    • Dual Color OLED Display
    • Four direction display
    • Low battery indication
    • 1 year warrantyNewnik-PX701-Pulse-Oximeter

Pros

Cons

Water resistant

Small display

Buzzer- Visual Alarm and low battery indicator

Not suitable for overnight use

Buy Now from Amazon

 

2. Choicemmed MD300C2D Pulse Oximeter

Features:
    • Auto Power OFF
    • Multi direction display
    • Low battery indicator
    • 1 year replacement warranty
    • Easy-to-use
    • Durable
    • Includes 2 AAA batteriesChoiceMMed-MD300C2D-Pulse-Oximeter

Pros

Cons

Auto power OFF

Not suitable for infants

Low power indicator

Not adjustable alarm

3. Beurer PO-30 Pulse Oximeter 

Features:
    • Auto power OFF
    • Colored display
    • Low battery indicator
    • Energy efficient
    • Lightweight and compact
    • Carrying pouch
    • Multi direction displayBeurer-PO30-Pulse-Oximeter 

Pros

Cons

Good battery performance

No alarm

Suitable for children as well

Not suitable for long and continuous usage

Buy Now from Amazon

 

Between ₹4000-₹5000

Most of the options in this price point are either imported or manufactured by foreign firms (mainly from US and Germany) in India. We can recommend only one device in this category:

1. Dr Trust (USA) Professional Series Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

Features:
    • Anti-motion artifact
    • OLED display
    • Screen rotation
    • Water resistant
    • Alarm and buzzer
    • Easy-to-use
    • Hypoallergenic designDrTrust-(USA)-Professional-Series-Fingertip-Pulse-Oximeter

Pros

Cons

Water resistant

No carrying pouch

Alarm

Not suitable for newborns

Buy Now from Amazon

 

Above ₹5000

Devices in this range are usually used by medical professionals. These are imported devices and are quite durable. We would recommend only one device from this category.

Note: This device has not been personally used, but the reviews have been taken from practicing medical professionals (anesthesiologist).

1. Beurer PO80 Pulse Oximeter

Features:
    • Auto ON/OFF
    • PC software for detailed display and evaluation
    • USB cable and USB charger
    • Battery status indicator and alarm
    • Memory (up to 24 hrs)
    • Integrated lithium-ion battery
    • Includes retaining strap, belt pouch and metal storage boxBeurer-PO80-Pulse-Oximeter

Pros

Cons

USB cable and charger, PC software for data transfer

No app

Suitable for children and overnight use

Charging plug type may be an issue, as its imported

Buy Now from Amazon

 

Things to watch-out for

There are some brands who import Chinese devices but sell them under the tag of ‘Make in India’. They are just re-branding the products. Some of these brands are actually not even from the health-tech sectors. Prior to the pandemic, they were in most cases involved with some other businesses (not relevant to health-tech or wellness), but have now leapt into this business just to make the most out of this opportunity (or crises). In our experience, it was found that a through research about the brand is always helpful. For example, search for their website and look into their other offerings. Take a look at the design (even color) of the device, and search whether there is/are any other brand(s) who have the same design (and even color). If both are identical, its a RED FLAG. Do not but such a product.

 

Why Has The Pulse Oximeter Become a Necessity?

Devices like the pulse oximeter are easy-to-use and does not always need medical supervision. There is still a raise in Covid-19 positive cases world over, and therefore quarantine is the first steps towards dealing with the spread. Monitoring the vitals of a person becomes quite essential in such a situation. This is where devices like the Pulse Oximeters comes into the picture.

Pulse-Oximeter-BP Machine-and-Thermometer

They are easy-to-use, and prima facie the readings are not that difficult to interpret. Of course, it is always advisable to consult a doctor if there is a need. Therefore, early diagnostic devices like the Pulse Oximeter come in quite handy. One can always monitor the vitals and if there is an abnormality, a medical guidance can and should be sought.

If you are interested in knowing more about Pulse Oximetry and the science behind the method, click here.

 

Conclusion

The option you choose depends upon your need and budget.  You can go for whichever suits your demand. While the options mentioned above have been in most cases personally tested and reviewed by us, we would still recommend you to consult a medical professional if faced with a dilemma. If you have a personal experience with any of the above mentioned devices, feel free to write to us using our contact page or e-mail ID. We will definitely get back to you. We hope our buying guide and recommendations would facilitate you in your purchase.

 

Be informed and make the correct purchase decision.

 


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7 thoughts on “Buying Guide for Pulse Oximeter – A necessity during Covid-19”

  1. Wow, this really is amazing. I wasn’t aware of this device before. Really thankful to have read this significant, and a must read article! Plus, the addition of FAQs are very helpful and informative.

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