How Much Does a Pulse Oximeter Cost?: A Comprehensive Price Review
The global pulse oximeter market for 2022 is estimated at $2.36 billion, and researchers expect it to reach $3.02 billion by 2026. The high prevalence of chronic and respiratory diseases, including COVID-19, is the primary reason for the high market growth rate, with many ordering at-home kits for self-diagnosis. So how much does a pulse oximeter (or pulse ox) cost?
In a nutshell, the cost for a disposable or specialty sensor starts from $10, while a reusable sensor price ranges between $30–$70. The average cost of a parameter monitor ranges between $500–$1000. A portable or fingertip pulse oximeter typically costs about $10–$100, depending on the features and quality of the device. However, some sophisticated models can cost up to $3,000 or more.
The portable pulse oximeter is the most used in the home, hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities. The table below shows different types of pulse oximeters and their costs.
|Type of Oximeter||Average Cost||Higher-End Models|
|Fetal pulse oximeter||$20–$150||$200–$400|
Note: These prices are just estimates taken from different retailers, including Amazon, eBay, and major suppliers of medical devices. It’s possible to get a pulse oximeter for a lower or higher price than shown above, depending on the supplier, type, and features.
When buying a pulse oximeter, there are things to consider:
- Is it for home or hospital use?
- What are the needs of the person using the oximeter?
- Which is the best type for your situation?
With the answers to the above questions, you’ll be able to pick a suitable oximeter that meets your needs.
Pulse Oximeters for Home Use
A pulse oximeter is a valuable and affordable tool for monitoring your health at home. It can help track your heart rate and blood oxygen levels and is a great way to spot potential health problems early. You can accomplish this in the comfort of your own home.
Your doctor might need to monitor your oxygen levels at home if you have conditions that affect your oxygen saturation, such as heart or lung issues.
A finger oximeter is the best for home use unless the doctor advises otherwise. It’s easy to use and less expensive.
Pulse Oximeters for Hospital
How much does it cost to use a pulse oximeter in a hospital setting? Due to the different needs of patients, high-quality equipment is needed in hospitals, unlike at home. Therefore, the cost of a pulse ox will depend on the hospital setting. For this reason, the hospital can use the following:
- Disposable or specialty sensors: These are perfect for emergency rooms, operating rooms, ICU, or neonatal types of pulse oximeters.
- Pulse oximeters with reusable sensors: You can use these multiple times, even with different patients. You only have to sterilize them before using them on another patient.
Pulse oximeter sensors require a monitor to display the patient’s parameters. Make sure to choose a monitor that best fits your hospital setting. Some hospital oximeters may require a stand, which may increase the overall cost of the oximeter.
Types of Pulse Oximeters
There are several types of pulse oximeters, each with its pros and cons.
1. Fingertip Pulse Oximeters
Fingertip oximeters are small and lightweight, making them easy to carry around and ideal for a hospital or home setting. These oximeters are also referred to as portable oximeters and come with the screen on the probe. They are clipped on the finger and use a battery for their operation.
Fingertip oximeters are relatively inexpensive, making them a good option for those on a budget. However, they can be inaccurate if the patient has cold hands or nail polish and can be affected by movement.
2. Wrist-Worn Sensors
These are small, lightweight oximeters you can wear on your wrist. They’re typically used for continuous monitoring, such as during exercise or sleep. A wrist sensor comes with a small screen on the wrist and a wire connected to the probe, which you position on the index finger.
3. Handheld Oximeters
You will find handheld oximeters mostly in health facilities for spot-checking or continuous monitoring. The handheld oximeter is more accurate and has a monitor you can hold while checking your vitals. The cable connects the probe to the screen. These pulse oximeters are perfect for ambulances, homes, or hospitals.
4. Tabletop Oximeters
Tabletop oximeters are larger and more expensive than handheld oximeters and must be placed on a flat surface, such as a tabletop. They are often used in hospitals, clinics, and subacute settings for spot checks and continuous monitoring.
5. Fetal Pulse Oximeters
These oximeters monitor oxygen saturation (Spo2) in kids. They’re small and designed to fit the child’s small fingers. Some fetal pulse oximeters are designed for use on the head or foot.
Features of a Pulse Oximeter
There are various pulse oximeters on the market, and choosing the right for your needs may be challenging. Here are the basic but most crucial features to remember before you choose a pulse oximeter:
This is probably one of the most necessary features of a pulse oximeter. Ensure the device you choose can accurately measure your oxygen saturation levels. Pulse oximeters are considered accurate with a measure of oxygen saturation levels of ±2% of the set standards.
Studies show that inexpensive pulse oximeters, especially those sold over the counter, may not be as accurate as the higher-priced ones, posing a potential health implication. This leaves the task to the buyer to determine what will serve them best. Note that FDA-approved pulse oximeters are the most reliable.
Normally, oxygen levels should be between 95% to 100%. However, people suffering from chronic conditions, such as asthma, anemia, or heart disease, may have their normal oxygen levels at 90% or lower. The device will not provide accurate measurements if your oxygen saturation reads below 80%.
Ease of Use
A pulse oximeter should be easy to operate and understand its readings. This makes it convenient to use even at home. The most user-friendly and commonly used type is the fingertip pulse oximeter.
A durable pulse oximeter should withstand high usage, drops, and bumps. Its toughness is essential, especially if you plan to use the device in a hospital setting. Also, look for a water-resistant oximeter since you can accidentally drop it in liquid. Furthermore, if it’s water-resistant, you can easily submerge it in a sterilizing liquid.
Most pulse oximeters come with a one-year warranty. Some companies will offer extended warranties for an additional cost. Disposable sensors usually do not come with a warranty since it’s for one-time use.
Screen Size and Brightness
Pulse oximeters have screens that range in size from small to large. Some people do not mind the size. To them, the smaller, the better for portability purposes. Others prefer a larger screen with enough brightness, so the information is clear enough to read.
These are optional features to look into when buying a pulse ox.
- Portability: If you’re looking for a home pulse oximeter, you can consider its portability. This way, you can have it everywhere, such as during workouts.
- Alarm: An alarm function alerts you if your blood oxygen levels drop below a certain level.
- Bluetooth connectivity: For syncing live data on your phone using a mobile application.
Is a Pulse Oximeter Worth it?
Purchasing a pulse oximeter is a decision you should make with the help of your doctor. However, your doctor may recommend having one at home if you have a chronic illness, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, or heart disease. Having one in your home helps you monitor your oxygen levels so that you can receive alerts in case they go below normal levels.
How Does a Pulse Oximeter Work?
The sensor uses a light beam to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. It first passes light through the blood and then measures the amount of light absorbed. Finally, the device analyzes the amount of absorbed light and then calculates the oxygen saturation level.
The right middle finger gives the most accurate oxygen saturation levels, followed by the right thumb.
Risks of Using a Pulse Oximeter
There are no known risks of using pulse oximeters. They are generally safe to use at home and in hospitals. However, it’s essential to note pulse oximeters can give false readings if the device is not placed on the finger correctly. Also, if you have sensitive skin, you can get minor skin irritation because of the adhesive material on the probe.
Pulse oximetry has indeed revolutionized the world of medicine. They are worth every penny, considering the lives they can save with instant detection of low blood oxygen levels. Fortunately, they are easily affordable, with some costing as low as $10 to highs of $2,500 depending on the features. Before you settle for one, discuss with your doctor to identify the type that suits your specific needs.-->