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Blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) is a measure of the percentage of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the blood. Without oxygen delivery, hypoxemia (low blood oxygen) and hypoxia (tissue hypoxia) can occur, both of which can be life-threatening and cause fatal harm if not addressed promptly. That is why measuring blood oxygen saturation is crucial in fully understanding a patient's condition and assessing their care needs.

On-site pulse oximeter testing

On-site SpO2 testing with a pulse oximeter allows healthcare providers to monitor a patient's blood oxygen status continuously accurately. This method is more convenient when continuous monitoring is not needed. Many spot-check devices are portable and handheld, making them convenient to use on-the-go. However, recent innovations have made it possible to have continuous monitoring wirelessly, allowing patients to move freely while under observation, which is a win-win situation.

Continuous pulse oximeter monitoring

As more data becomes available, continuous pulse oximeter monitoring may enable more effective clinical assessments. Continuous monitoring provides data for healthcare providers and customizable alarms to help them stay up-to-date on a patient's condition and make necessary interventions. Timely alerts or notifications about a patient's status through continuous monitoring are crucial for early intervention, which improves the patient's treatment outcomes. For example, high-risk, long-term care patients who take one or more medications may experience unexpected events. Continuous monitoring allows healthcare providers to have a better understanding of a patient's condition and make more effective clinical judgments and care decisions using continuous high-fidelity data.

Remote pulse oximeter monitoring

Continuous remote monitoring of blood oxygen saturation is becoming increasingly popular. With the COVID-19 pandemic and increased demand for remote medical solutions, pulse oximeter sales have surged, and monitoring is conveying rehabilitation trend data for home-based patients to remote clinical physicians. Remote monitoring combines SpO2 measurements with a patient's safety monitoring platform, allowing doctors to remotely view a patient's rehabilitation trend data and communicate with them through the application of the safety monitoring platform when necessary to return to the hospital.

Choosing the right pulse oximeter

When caring for patients at home, it is essential to use a lightweight, durable, comfortable, easy-to-use, and portable pulse oximeter. However, as mentioned above, the advancement of technology has provided benefits for continuous monitoring. Such equipment improves patient comfort and allows for free movement like a fingertip check device. Still, there are many technological differences to consider, and due to the special nature of medical device products, it is essential to differentiate between good and bad, reliable and unreliable pulse oximeters, to beware of low-priced, unverified, and non-hospital-grade devices to prevent equipment from being inaccurate and unreliable. Also, please avoid using smartwatches or other fitness devices that can monitor SpO2, as these are not actually medical devices.

It is important to remember that the less involvement clinical physicians have in patient care, meaning the shorter the time patients are monitored, the more patients and caregivers rely on pulse oximeters to accurately and reliably do their job and provide timely notifications and alerts when it matters most.

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