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Wireless medical scales (A definitive guide)

Wireless medical scales (A definitive guide)

In 2014, Marsden became one of the first weighing scale manufacturers in the UK to offer wireless scales with Bluetooth. The Marsden M-430 won the Best Medical Scale award at the Weighing Review awards later that year.

The scales were launched to meet a growing demand for care in a patient’s home. By using wireless weighing scales, data can be sent straight to a patient’s smartphone, tablet or PC.

Wireless scales are telehealth patient monitoring, which was pinpointed as a key government cost saving strategy for the NHS back in 2012. As demand for telehealth weighing scales has increased, Marsden has also launched Wifi scales to the wireless range.

Bluetooth scales are preferred in telehealth remote patient monitoring. Wifi scales, on the other hand, are more popular with hospitals for sending data from electronic medical scales to a patient database. But what are the benefits of wireless scales, and should you choose Bluetooth - or Wifi? All is explained in this definitive wireless scales guide.

What are wireless scales?

Wireless scales in Marsden’s medical scales range are weighing scales with capable of transmitting a weight reading directly to an external database or alternate device. The scales are fitted with a Bluetooth module, and this wirelessly transmits the data.

Who needs wireless medical scales?

Recording an accurate patient weight is critical. In 70% of occasions that errors do occur, patients are affected, according to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority in the US.

An accurate weight means that the correct medication or treatment is administered and patients can be correctly monitored for changes in their health.

A key reason behind the push on telehealth and wireless weighing has been to reduce hospital waiting times, time spent routinely checking patient weight and bed space. Data from wireless weighing scales can be accessed from all departments, reducing the need for multiple weigh-ins each time a patient is assessed, and meaning that time spent with each patient can be reduced and more patients can be seen.

Alternatively, wireless scales can be used in telehealth schemes. This allows patients to stay at home and be monitored for changes in weight. The weight reading can then be transmitted to a central monitoring system where weight is checked against a previous reading and any issues relayed to a GP or hospital.

What is telehealth?

Telehealth is: “the remote exchange of data between a patient at home and their clinician(s) to assist in diagnosis and monitoring typically used to support patients with Long Term Conditions. Among other things it comprises of fixed or mobile home units to measure and monitor temperatures, blood pressure and other vital signs parameters for clinical review at a remote location using phone lines or wireless technology.”

Individuals are therefore enabled to take more control over their own health. It can also provide them with more understanding of their health and their changes in weight over time. For clinicians, utilising telehealth can ensure that they are “proactively involved in the ongoing wellbeing of their patient, managing timely interventions and helping to improve their patient’s quality of life.”

“The NHS today is constrained in the resources it has,” says Rupert Hipwell, Philips Director of Population Health Management Services in the UK. “That’s not a situation that is going to change any time soon, so we need to come up with ways of working that enable us to do more with less.”

Initial findings of Whole System Demonstrator telehealth programme indicated a:

  1. 15% reduction in visits to A&E
  2. 20% reduction in emergency admissions
  3. 45% reduction in mortality rates

A report by University of California-San Francisco has suggested 27% of hospital readmissions could be prevented by telehealth.

What is the government’s telehealth strategy?

The Department of Health and Social Care has said that telehealth solutions could save the NHS £1.2 billion.

Paul Burstow, former Minister of State for Care Services, said: “The widespread adoption of telehealth and telecare as part of an integrated care plan will mean better quality of care and greater independence for people with long-term conditions.

“Delivered from the front line it could save the NHS up to £1.2 billion over five years. This new approach is not about the technology, it is about a revolution in personalised healthcare that can improve the lives of three million people, increase their independence and dignity as well as reduce the time they spend in hospital.

“The UK is one of the world leaders in the way telehealth and telecare can be used.”

You can read more on the Government’s backing of telehealth in this blog post.

What does the future for telehealth look like?

Over time, telehealth looks set to transform the NHS. According to the Telegraph patients with long-term health conditions will most likely be offered some form of telehealth support for self-managing their health between appointments.

“This is likely to be triggered by factors such as if they have multiple long-term conditions, or they’ve had a recent exacerbation or have had a number of admissions to hospital the previous year,” says Mr Hipwell. “These kinds of factors will trigger healthcare specialists, in areas where telehealth is up and running, to actively reach out.”

As telehealth becomes more integrated as part of the UK healthcare system it will also become more affordable. A study has shown that a telehealth assessment of a patient is over 82.5% cheaper than a visit to an emergency room. It is also more convenient, more productive and more effective for people living in rural areas.

Find out about what to expect from the future of telehealth here.

How do wireless scales work and do the scales require software?

Software is needed to receive weight data from the scale, but currently Marsden does not supply software with Bluetooth scales (or Micro USB connectivity).

These types of scales are supplied with a Bluetooth transmitter module. Typically customers will purchase the scales are the protocols will be supplied by Marsden will supply the protocols so that the customer can create or configure software to receive this information.

Which wireless scale is right for me?

Marsden’s range of wireless scales are tailored to meet your weighing needs. All carry the ‘BT’ or 'W' suffix and appear on our website with Bluetooth/Wifi logos to make them easy to spot. You can select either Bluetooth or Wifi connectivity before you purchase.

Wireless portable floor scales are ideal for home use. Weight data can be securely and simply transmitted automatically to a clinician by those patients benefiting from home monitoring. The Marsden M-420 and Marsden M-430 are lightweight scales with an optional carry case, so they are easy to carry. The M-420BT has a 220kg capacity and graduations of 50g<150kg>100g. The M-430BT has a 220kg capacity and graduations to 200g.

The M-420 and M-430 are Marsden’s most popular weighing scales for telehealth initiatives.

For hospitals, a column mounted indicator is recommended for easier reading of weights. The Marsden M-110 has a 250kg capacity and accuracy to 100g. The M-100 has a high 300kg capacity and graduations to 50g.

The Marsden M-600 Hoist Weighing Attachment is perfect for weighing bedbound patients. Carers and medical staff can carry the lightweight hoist weighing attachment from hoist to hoist.

For patients who need to be seated, the Marsden M-200 - a chair scale - is the most popular option. It has a large seat for bariatric patients. Alternatively, patients can be weighed in their own wheelchair with the Marsden M-610 or the Marsden M-650.

For more help in choosing the right wireless scale read this telehealth scales buyer's guide. For more information on Marsden wireless scales call 01709 364296 or contact us here.