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Equipment review: automatic BP monitor

Dr Melanie Wynne-Jones gives her verdict on this new piece of equipment after trying it out

The equipment

Omron 705IT fully automatic upper arm blood

pressure monitor, USB cable and software included. Catalogue price £144.64 plus VAT.

This automatic digital blood pressure device is on the British Hypertension Society list of validated blood pressure monitors suitable for clinical use and for home/self-

assessment of blood pressure.

As well as recording and storing up to 28 blood pressure readings, it can transfer stored readings on to a PC, where they can be displayed in Excel or printed out as a table or graph. It can also be connected

direct to a compact printer, available at

extra cost.

The pack also contains a CD ROM, a USB cable and an instruction booklet. The cuff is standard adult (22-32cm); small and large adult cuffs can be purchased. The machine is fully automatic, and uses the

oscillometric method with a stated

accuracy of +/- 3mmHg.

The software does not require a high-spec PC and will apparently run on a 486 or

Pentium processor (Windows 98SE or above).

Ease of use

The machine must be programmed with the date and time – this took me two goes!

Taking a reading is simple; the cuff is easy to apply singlehandedly and the manual contains diagrams and helpful hints for non-professionals. Blood pressure and pulse rate are displayed; the memory button

reveals the last 28 readings.

The CD-ROM installed itself and

downloading is automatic, but again, it took me a couple of goes to follow the

instructions for entering the patient's ID. This produced a very basic Excel

spreadsheet; as far as I could work out you have to construct any graphs yourself.

Innovation

Other computerised machines for personal/ professional use are available; simpler

machines can produce printouts which I would prefer as they would be quicker and easier to scan on to the patient's records.

Usefulness

This machine is ideal for health-conscious, computer-savvy patients who can present tables and graphs to their grateful GPs.

It is not the cheapest automatic device for use in surgery or on visits, but could be lent to patients to check home blood pressures (although evidence-based treatments are based on office readings). These could then be analysed on a surgery PC and used as a basis for discussion and treatment

decisions. (Some GP systems already

generate graphical records of manually-

inputted readings).

Personally, I would not want to

download readings during a consultation, even though it only takes a couple of

minutes.

Value for money

The catalogue price is £144.64 plus VAT,

compared with approximately £40-£80 for simple automated devices with no

computer link. If lent to patients, teaching them and downloading results would incur staff costs. However, the information

obtained might avoid prescribing or hospital costs, so practice-based commissioners might consider it value for money.

Overview

Suffice it to say that we are buying one each for our registrar and health care assistant to use in the surgery! But we are not bothering with the spreadsheets.

Melanie Wynne-Jones is a GP in Stockport

Manufacturer's comment Regarding its PC capabilities, the Omron 705 IT is one of Omron's premium devices with its unique download capability. The software is deliberately simple to allow easy export of data. The device has been independently validated to BHS protocol.

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