When using QardioArm, I found that the whole exercise to be quite quick in terms of the time it took to apply the cuff, open the app, and start a measurement. Granted, when doing it correctly, the whole process should be extended by a few minutes of rest prior to the measurement and separating the two measurements by about at least a minute. That said, I found that even at 6 a.m. prior to my first cup of coffee, I could go from sitting down to starting a measurement in less than 30 seconds.
The data can be viewed as lists and as a graph. When viewed as a graph, the values are displayed as averages. So when you’re reviewing daily trends, each day displays as a single point reflective of the average systolic and diastolic pressure of that day. The same is true when viewing on weekly or monthly timescales.
While its probably reasonable for many patients with hypertension, a more detailed viewing option would be important for managing patients with either labile or resistant hypertension. While the list option is available, I think they can do better and deliver a display mode that will allow me to view multiple readings taken at different points in the day over say a week. Being able to view that data is helpful when it come to adjusting dosing, adding drugs, and tweaking the timing of administration.
Finally, to share the history, we can tap the share button which generates an email that will send a CSV file to whomever we choose as well as charts and graphs of blood pressure trends. I was a bit surprised by the limited sharing options; in particular, it lack filters such as date range. That would be an important addition to future versions of the app.
As noted above, neither the Followers we may have set nor the physician we identified in our profile are listed when using this functionality. We still have to manually enter the name and email address.
How it stacks up
In our literature review of hypertension apps, we identified several key features for inclusion based on available evidence. Here’s how the QardioArm stacks up.
Medication reminder function: Not available.
Measurement reminder function: Available.
Incorporation of self-care messages: Yes.
Automated sharing with managing clinician: Not available.
Incorporating usability testing in design: Unable to assess.
Recommend validation against in clinic measurement: Not done.
As far as the general device features in comparison to some other options available,
Compatibility: iOS & Android
Native App: Yes, Qardio
Third-Party Integration: None
FDA Cleared: Yes
Validated: Unable to verify (using British Society of Hypertension and dabl databases
Cuff Information: Single cuff size fits arm circumferences 22 – 37 cm
Multiple Users: Guest feature available (does not save guest measurements)
Provide instruction in proper technique: Limited, could be more comprehensive and more prominently displayed.
At the end of the day
The QardioArm is a beautifully designed blood pressure cuff. The device itself is quite clever in its design, making it quite portable with a low profile. The app is both sleek and designed in such a way as to make the task of checking a blood pressure as easy as possible.
The functionality does have some limitations. For patients that use other self-tracking devices, such as a pedometer or connected weight scale, there are options out there that offer far better 3rd party device integration. It would also be nice if the app reminded patients to bring their device into the clinic; that deficiency is certainly not unique to QardioArm though. Finally the sharing functionality could be improved.
At $99, it comes in on the lower end of the cost spectrum. iHealth’s blood pressure cuff is also $99 whereas Withings and Blip come in at $130 and $160, respectively. For the functionality, iHealth does have a more robust app in terms of functionality, but a price is paid in usability: it takes more steps to actually check a blood pressure.
At this point, the patients best served by this device as opposed to others would be those who:
- Need to minimize the number of “taps” required to get a blood pressure
- Don’t use other self-tracking devices like pedometers
- Have a single person at home tracking blood pressure
- Travel or otherwise need a highly portable device
At the end of the day, QardioArm is an outstanding addition to the field of options available for connected blood pressure cuffs and definitely an option to consider when recommending a connected blood pressure monitor.