Accuracy of self-monitoring heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation in patients with symptoms suggestive of COVID infection
2 April 2020
A review of study findings investigating the accuracy of self-monitoring of heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation in patients with symptoms suggestive of COVID infection, and the optimal method for self-monitoring each of these vital signs.
This review aimed to answer the following research questions:
What is the accuracy of self-monitoring of heart-rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation in patients with symptoms suggestive of COVID infection?
What is the optimal method for self-monitoring each of these?
Overview of findings
We found very few studies that addressed our question of interest. The limited evidence suggests that smartphone apps can accurately measure heart rate, although there is variation across apps.
Those that use contact photoplethysmography to measure heart rate appear to have better accuracy than those that use non-contact photoplethysmography.
The most accurate apps for measuring heart rate appear to be the “Heart Fitness” app (version 2.0.3; Senscare SAS, France) and the “Samsung Health Application”. Samsung Health Application was also found to be accurate for measuring oxygen saturation for patient with saturation levels in the normal range but performed less well among those with hypoxia.
The scientific basis for the use of smartphone apps for this purpose is questionable and so we would not recommend their use for measuring oxygen saturation. These findings should be interpreted with caution due to the very small number of studies available. There was no evidence on home monitoring of respiratory rate.