An Irish website that aims to painstakingly check and document the medical validations of all the blood-pressure monitoring equipment on the market has become an international success.
Dabl Educational Trust, a not-for-profit company sponsored by Dublin-based software company Dabl, was set up by William Rickard and Professor Eoin O’Brien.with support from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. It now has links from 97 countries and the World Health Organisation.
Rickard told E-Health Insider: "The bottom line is that we are raising overall standards in manufacturing of blood pressure devices. Manufactures who try to hide under the carpet and do slick marketing are history."
Dabl manufacture software that interprets results from 24 hour blood pressure monitoring devices and originally decided to set up the site because the data quality coming from such devices was so variable. Although the site covers all blood pressure devices, both Dabl’s own studies and unrelated research have discovered that around half of the products on the market do not have proper medical validation.
Referring to American, British and international standards for the medical devices, the site lists each product along with colour-coded recommendations, red for "Not recommended", amber for "Questionable" and green for fully validated. References to the original journal articles are also provided.
"It’s very important then when you look at people from the 97 countries accessing the site now, it’s important that people who need it get the information. That’s the beauty of the web; they all have access to this information," said Rickard.
Rickard said that the site is designed to cut through the often confusing marketing talk from device manufacturers. "They use terms like ‘clinically approved’," said Rickard. "One health board [in Ireland] bought a device that was not validated for 20 GPs."
Some manufacturers use different model numbers and variations on their models, said Rickard. "One manufacturers said, ‘We have X, Y and Z makes, but they’re not on your site. We said, ‘Please send us the papers.’ We are still waiting for the papers."
However, Rickard stressed that it was in manufacturers’ interests to use the site and offer their devices and the validations up for scrutiny.
The site was set up in 2003, and requires a team of five to seven part-time staff to maintain. Dabl sponsors the site partly because it is in the software company’s interest to promote data quality in the devices and partly because the branding associated with such a well-used information resource help to market the company.
According to Dabl, 24-hour blood pressure monitoring devices are superior to ones that measure blood pressure on a one-off basis as they reduce the possibility of ‘white coat hypertension’. The latest update for the site is a list of cheap devices aimed at markets in developing countries.