For the first time, we can take a clinically accurate blood pressure measurement from our wrist — welcome to the first of its kind wrist-worn blood pressure monitor, HeartGuide, brought to market by Omron.






I know this journey has been a long, patient one, as I came to know Ranndy Kellogg, Omron’s President and CEO, several years ago at CES. Back in 2017, I spoke with Ranndy about the vision for BP measurement for Everyday People that would be a streamlined, simple consumer experience that the traditional armband and pump didn’t offer. I wrote about that conversation in The Huffington Post nearly 2 years ago.

Here’s the press release for the announcement, which lets you know these are available for pre-order beginning today, at a price of  $499, directly from the Omron store. The HeartGuide will be available at retail beginning January 9, 2019 — during the week of CES in Las Vegas.

This is roughly the price of an Apple Watch. It may sound high, but an Apple Watch hasn’t yet been cleared by the FDA to take clinically validate blood pressure.

Furthermore, let’s get real about health care costs, which of course, is a Health Populi/THINK-Health modus vivendi. The average cost of an ambulatory care visit is now nearly $500, and an inpatient stay, about $22,000. Self-care for a heart patient or someone at-risk for heart disease can prevent an emergency room visit or inpatient admission, $499 could be a great preventive care investment.

One reason this device, which might look like a typical smart/activity watch, is higher-priced than that generic watch is that Omron worked a long, long time with the FDA on satisfying all of the clinical end-points and requirements to meet the Agency’s stringent hurdles. For example, to be cleared as a medical device — which this indeed is — Omron had to use oscillometric technology. This was one of the FDA’s requirement to clear the watch as a non-invasive blood pressure monitor. [This monograph from the NIH National Library of Medicine further details how oscillometric technology works].

Adding to cost, and clinical quality, are some 89 patents filed that this wrist device incorporates. Consider this: the miniature blood pressure pumps and valves in the watch are the size of a grain of rice. Furthermore, due to the clinical importance of this device, Omron had to build in redundancy as back-up, so there are two pumps and two valves in each watch.

The watch has a complementary mobile app, called HeartAdvisor, which communicates what a user’s blood pressure readings mean along with recommending steps to take to improve heart health.

Lest we forget, this medical device also performs consumer health tracking like activity (steps and distance), calories burned, and sleep monitoring. The watch also channels messages and calls.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: As patients continue to morph into payors, we’re becoming more aware of our health care costs. Prevention has a more visceral, transparent ROI for a health consumer today than it might have had just a few years ago.

Self-care is the new black, as I have written and proselytized. Prevention is especially powerful for heart health – the social determinants of healthy eating/nutritious food, physical activity, and access to primary care all bolster a healthy heart and resilient living.

We have entered an era where our home and body are becoming our personal health hub. Wearable tech is getting better designed, more accessible for people who don’t have to be trained clinicians to use — and the HeartGuide is an example of this opportunity made real.

Today is December 20th: if you’re late in purchasing a gift for someone in your life dealing with heart issues, what a great IOU gift this could be.

As a scrapbooker, in both digital and paper modes, I created this Christmas or New Year’s gift card just for the occasion. [I didn’t do this because Omron compensated me to; I do this to share the good news and gift of health, which is part of my mission-driven work].

Wishing everyone a loving, healthy holiday — and my gift to you on Boxing Day, 26th December 2018, will be the annual Health Populi TrendCast for 2019. Stay tuned to my 2019 tea-leaf readings for health, technology and consumers next week…and in the meantime, remember that love is the greatest social determinant of health of all.