5 Factors that can Impact Pulse Oximetry Budgets and Long-Term Costs

Understanding the total costs of pulse oximetry involves several factors beyond upfront equipment. And it’s important to consider all of these factors, when figuring out the supplier and the technology that’s best for your hospital — and budget.

Current vendors, and suppliers you might be evaluating, should be able to discuss:

  • Cost variables specific to your situation
  • Projected costs over the contract period — typically three to five years
  • Required services and support to get the most out of your system, but may be an extra cost
  • Potential costly patient safety risks that should be addressed, and can be prevented, with adequate and accurate monitoring

You’ll also want to talk about the contract terms that specify the equipment you need to return at the end of the agreement. Take time to understand how this impacts your budget and any potential hidden penalties. Some companies require you to return both monitors and sensors. If you’re a Nellcor™ pulse oximetry technology customer, you’ll be asked to return only Nellcor™ pulse oximetry monitors.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss five factors that could potentially affect budgeting, total cost, and risk. We don’t get into specific product and service pricing, but we do let you know what to expect when you use Nellcor™ pulse oximetry technology.

Pulse Oximetry Sensor and Accessory Use

Consumables like sensors, adhesive tape, and cables can be ongoing costs that are overlooked. But higher than necessary consumption rates can increase long-term and overall costs substantially. With Nellcor™ pulse oximetry technology, you can expect a utilization rate that averages a year-over-year increase of approximately nine percent.4

What are some of the issues associated with consumption rates? A few topics to explore with suppliers include:

  • Investigating the out-of-box failure rate of any type of sensor you are evaluating
  • Knowing the warranty on reusable sensors, which sets an expectation for reliability — Nellcor™ pulse oximetry reusable sensors are warrantied for three years
  • Asking for documentation related to adhesive quality and longevity, to be clear about how tape failures can drive up sensor use
  • Finding hospital procedures for handling lower-than-expected sensor or tape performance. Some sensors may time out and become inoperable after a predefined amount of time. Clinicians can replace both products at certain intervals to avoid failures
  • Asking for details about the life expectancy of cables and how frequently they need to be replaced — backed by clinical evidence if possible. Like sensors, some cables may time out and become inoperable after a predefined amount of time. Frequent replacements tied to the manufacturer may be necessary
  • Reviewing independent clinical studies about optics so you know to which sensors the research applies, how it applies, and the outcomes

You’ll want to understand the difference between remanufactured and reprocessed sensors and learn about rebate and recycling programs. All can have an impact on your budget. Nellcor™ pulse oximetry with OxiMax™ technology remanufactured sensors are like-new sensors that won’t sacrifice quality or patient safety. They adhere to the same FDA specifications that apply to new Nellcor™ sensors, supporting budgets, supply chain efficiency, and waste reduction goals. Reprocessed sensors cannot make these quality and performance claims. They may also have high failure rates or other problems. Poor performance has the potential to increase risk, particularly in patients with low oxygenation levels or with poor perfusion.

Our rebate and recycling programs are designed to help save money, improve efficiency, and reduce medical waste. How do other suppliers compare?

Related: For more information on the cost of pulse oximetry, read this blog post.

Adjacent Pulse Oximetry Offerings that Add Value

It’s important to understand how a supplier impacts your success. Different manufacturers offer different adjacent pulse oximetry products and services. So be sure to explore what’s available to you and the costs, if any. A true partnership between a manufacturer and a hospital includes products and services with proven clinical value, focusing on patient safety and efficient workflows.

Nellcor™ pulse oximetry technology and services focus on reducing risk, containing costs, and adding value beyond the products. We do this through:

  • Alarm analysis. This service analyzes the frequency of clinical and device alarms at their current settings. Optimizing alarm settings for each patient creates better focus without missing important patient changes. Most of us know alarm fatigue is a problem. Alarm fatigue incidences have a mortality rate of approximately 6.5 percent.1 And, nuisance alarms may contribute to burnout.

Nurses under 30 report a 49 percent burnout rate, and for nurses over 30, it’s 40 percent.2 For more information on alarm analysis, please contact your Nellcor™ pulse oximetry representative.

  • Smart alarm management. This technology comes with Nellcor™ pulse oximetry monitors and is controlled through monitor settings. It differentiates between serious hypoxemia and minor transient events, giving clinicians reassurance that they are responding to alarms for patients most in need. After implementing recommendations from the analysis of our smart alarm management tools, alarms may be reduced by as much as 40 percent.3
  • Making data meaningful. The downloadable Nellcor™ pulse oximetry analytics tool let’s you view and analyze data for one or more patients in customizable displays, graphs, and reports. The Vital Sync™ remote monitoring and clinical decision support system provides a hospital-wide solution with capabilities like remote access, alarm forwarding, and an array of reports.
  • Outcomes Pledge Program. Through this program, we want to help lower healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes. We partner with customers to follow clinical protocols, clinician education, and targeted goals.
  • Integration with OEM patient monitoring solutions. We integrate Nellcor™ pulse oximetry technology into multiparameter monitors to meet the needs of more hospitals and patients. You can use Nellcor™ pulse oximetry sensors, both new and remanufactured, and receive the same training and support.
  • Clinical product specialists. This team of specialists is dedicated to customer education, training, and success. Many are former nurses or respiratory therapists who can relate directly to your daily challenges. They’re located throughout the U.S., so they can respond quickly to requests.

Related: Learn more about Nellcor™ SatSeconds alarm management technology.

Pulse Oximetry Education and Training

Education and training aren’t always primary concerns when it comes to budgetary comparisons between vendors. But the services and amount of education offered from different vendors varies significantly. For example, consider new product setup and training, ongoing educational courses, and professional learning opportunities.

Think about how your current supplier supported you at the critical time of new product installation. Did the company send anyone to install the equipment and relieve the burden on your BioMed department? Did only one person offer limited training or did a team of specialists help you through the transition?

After purchasing Nellcor™ pulse oximetry technology, a conversion team comes to your facility offering training for two or three weeks, depending on your requirements. The team unpacks the equipment, sets it up, programs your desired parameters, and conducts any necessary testing.

Here’s a good example of why thorough training is critical. Incorrectly applied sensors can cause interference that may affect sensor readings. We train your staff on the correct sequence: sensor on patient first, then plug in and turn on monitor. We also offer free “sensor-first” stickers and flyers.

Does your current pulse oximetry vendor provide free ongoing education? We do — and we’re continually expanding the list, which includes:

  • Clinical product specialists who reinforce proper use, protocols, and guidelines for continuous monitoring
  • Our online catalog, which has more than 120 accredited and nonaccredited offerings — sort by care setting, clinical discipline, technology, and other filters
  • Peer-to-peer events to provide insights, experiences, best practices, and “how to” guidance from doctors, respiratory therapists, nurses, and other clinicians. The average participant rating is 4.93 out of 5
  • Online resources, including downloadable PDFs, podcasts, videos, and webinars

Related: See what’s coming up on the educational calendar. It’s interactive and registration is easy.

Post-Warranty Service and Maintenance

Product reliability is one of the best ways to contain costs. So is investing in quality technical help. After a product warranty ends, technical support is another way to understand and estimate the cost of pulse oximetry. Be sure to learn about technician qualifications, experience, and training in addition to the support center procedures and policies.

What can you expect from Nellcor™ pulse oximetry technical support? Our U.S.-based technicians have up to 33 years of experience, and they’re cross-trained on all products. The first expert you speak with can help you with any Nellcor™ pulse oximetry technology. You can get help by email or phone, with no scripts to slow down problem diagnosis and resolution. You may want to find out how other manufacturers compare to our technical support center. That’s because:

  • More than 87 percent of calls are answered in less than 30 seconds4 — no long hold times.
  • The support center team includes licensed nurse and biomedical expertise.
  • Problems can be replicated, when necessary, on the same monitors you use.
  • Loaner monitors are shipped overnight to you when necessary.

Related: Learn more about Nellcor™ pulse oximetry support by calling 1-800-Nellcor or exploring online resources.

Pulse Oximetry Monitor Warranty

We know that the value of a warranty depends in part on the financial/leasing arrangement. Regardless, a warranty says a lot about a company’s commitment to quality and confidence in its products.

Nellcor™ pulse oximetry monitors have a five-year warranty, and we offer extended coverage. Other manufacturers typically provide a one-year warranty. Weigh the value of reliable products, and available loaners, against frequent monitor replacements, workflow disruption, and the risk of not having a monitor when needed.

Related: Learn more about monitor warranties by visiting www.Medtronic.com/NellcorSupport.

Patient Safety Above All

We urge you to consider the factors that influence long-term costs, which often are the same things that impact how you deliver patient care. Sensor and accessory use rates, adjacent offerings, education/training, technical support, and warranties deserve a close look — so does the manufacturer.

We are committed to helping clinicians deliver the best possible patient care. As a Mission-based company, our first priority is contributing to human welfare. That’s why we’ve designed products suitable for every patient and monitoring situation.

Related: Why should you consider Nellcor™ pulse oximetry? Find out in this blog article.

Given all the variables, we believe that Nellcor™ technology is the most accurate, reliable, and economical choice. As you evaluate and compare pulse oximetry solutions, the following resources may be helpful including:

Related: We offer easy-to-use continuous monitoring solutions to help you keep your patients safe. Learn how you can gain more value from your medical devices using Vital Sync.


Contact your Nellcor™ pulse oximetry sales representative to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article and to request independent clinical studies.

1. Patient safety in healthcare forecast to 2022. Frost & Sullivan. January 2018.
2. Holdren, P, Paul, DP, Coustasse, A. Burnout syndrome in hospital nurses. Paper presented at: BHAA International 2015; March 2015; Chicago, IL. https://mds.marshall.edu/mgmt_faculty/141/. Accessed June 6, 2019.
3. Brostowicz HM, Rais-Bahrami K. Oxygen saturation monitoring in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU): evaluation of a new alarm management. J Neonatal Perinatal Med. 2010;3(3):135–139.
4. Internal Medtronic research.



About the Author

Michael W. DeWan is a Portfolio Manager for Respiratory & Monitoring Solutions at Medtronic. With more than 12 years in the Medical Device Industry, he develops financial and contractual strategies to help Integrated Delivery Networks ensure the best patient outcomes, across the care continuum. This is accomplished with monitoring solutions such as Nellcor™, Microstream™, Vital Sync™, INVOS™, Puritan Bennett™, BIS™, and McGrath™.

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