Devices to Help you Stay Healthy in a Covid19 World


If Covid19 gets a grip again, we should do everything we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and well:

    • Eat well,
    • Social distance,
    • Wear a mask if you are going to be close to other people,
    • Wash your hands,
    • Treat masks and gloves as infected when you take them off,
    • Stay active,

And use technology to help you mind your own health!

Thermometers: there are lots of really low quality thermometers on the market. It is important to have a thermometer and to check the temperature of all family members daily. Even if its not a good thermometer, it should give you consistent results, it is shocking how many different ways there are to measure temperature – so you have to read the instructions for most or they simply will not work. If you don’t get consistent results from your thermometer – it’s useless, throw it out.
My recommendation is the Withings Thermometer – its on the expensive side, but you can record the temp of 5 family members over time, its easy to use.

Weighing scales: Covid and most other chronic conditions target people who are overweight. If you are overweight, try to get to a healthy weight. The weighing scales can record your progress (I wish they did the weight loss for you, but they dont!)
My recommendation is the Withings Cardio+ scales. It tracks weight and lots more. But any smart scales linking to an app on your phone that will record progress over time is a plus.

Monitoring your breathing: a little finger clip (pulse oximeter) with a built in display can give a good indication of the amount of oxygen in your blood. If its less than 95% then its a bit worrying. If you are normally quite healthy with oxygen levels 97% and up and you seem them drop, when you have any symptoms that could be Covid, seek advice.

For more frail people, the oxygen levels in the blood will track impaired lung function closely, but for stronger, fitter people – they might compensate for worsening lung function by working harder to breathe and this will not be seen by the pulse oximeter until fatigue sets in. So do not wait for low oxygen readings before seeking help if you notice you are breathing faster.

My recommendation: Any CE-marked, pulse oximeter with a display. Ideally they will connect to an app on your smart phone.  Some smart watches (for example high-end Garmin can record blood oxygen levels).

Blood pressure: Blood pressure can be measured on some fairly cheap home devices. Omron devices are widely used. I think blood pressure should be tracked where there is a known high blood pressure risk, or for older people in “social isolation”. The flip side of this is that daily Blood Pressure checks can lead to unnecessary anxiety. I dont know the best way to manage this, but it might be worth considering a family member taking responsibility for reviewing the blood pressure measurements and undertaking to seek medical advice on behalf of someone in isolation if necessary.

So a blood pressure device which connects to an app, tracks the measurements over time and which can send a report by email is ideal. But this could also be very stressful for someone who is not tech-savvy, so it needs to be handled with care.

My recommendation is the Withings Blood Pressure cuff. Its expensive, but easy to use, once its set up.

ECG: If you have a heart condition or occasional arrhythmia, it is good to be able to quickly record an ECG in a format that can be saved and emailed.  There are a number of options for recording a basic ECG.  These include: Kardia (Alivecor), Apple watch series 4 & 5, and the Withings Blood Pressure cuff.  Several other smart watches offer this functionality.  I recommend any of the above.

Activity: its good to track your walking – most smart watches and smart phones track steps taken.  Most people need to increase their activity.  There has been a lot of discussion about taking 10,000 steps a day but if you only take a 1000 steps now, then a good target is 2000.  Its very important for your health to be active.

Pictures and videos: if you or those under your care are linked in to a long-term healthcare service, that may mean you want to send photos (for example, rash, wound, scar) or videos (for example, a seizure) to your care provider, or even if your GP has agreed to review a report from one of the devices above, then think about the following:

  • You are making the decision to send this, so it is important that you consider your own privacy – check if the healthcare provider has a secure process for image management.  E-mail might be best – check you have the correct email address for who you are sending this to.
  • Check what you should call the file you are sending: patient initials, and date of birth?  Remember if a healthcare provider receives images from you, they might receive images from many other people.  It can be very challenging to manage these images.

If you have a chronic condition, and you are not sure if a symptom is changing and you are not ready to contact your healthcare provider, track the symptom yourself for example, for diabetics – if you are worried about a foot ulcer – take pictures of any changes.  When you do contact your health-provider, you will be able to give them rich information.

Remote Healthcare Consults: Many healthcare services which we thought could never be part of the telehealth world are now available by phone or video.  If you think your health is deteriorating, contact your healthcare provider and give them as much relevant information as you can: noting when symptoms started or changed and any triggers – give the healthcare providers as many clues as possible so they can help you.

The Covid19 Home: If someone in your family does get sick and needs to self-isolate – you can use a cheap smart camera (eg Neos Smartcam) or a baby monitor to stay in touch.  Hive, Ikea Tradfri and Nest- type devices, many of which work with Amazon’s Alexa to control the environment.

For someone in social isolation – the Alexa Show is a very simple device for staying in touch that is easy to use, even for non tech-savvy people.

Stay well!

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