Stop Overlooking Height Rods

Scales, blood pressure cuffs, and thermometers are just some of the standard medical devices required in a physician office.  But an often overlooked valuable tool for any healthcare setting is a height rod, also known as a stadiometer. Knowing a patient’s height is just as important as knowing blood pressure, weight or body temperature. Additionally, providers participating in MIPS measure #128 could lose Medicare payments if they are not utilizing a height rod to measure patient height.

What is Height Data Used For?

Pediatric offices use height measurements to track a patient’s growth or use the height and weight data to calculate a patient’s body mass index, or BMI. Height and weight data is also used to calculate BMI for adult patients. The BMI measurement is used to determine if the patient is at a healthy weight and if a weight loss or weight gain plan needs to be implemented. Measuring height and weight can also be important for those participating in MIPS (Merit Based Incentive Payment Program). MIPS participants can choose measure #128: Preventive Care and Screening: Body Mass Index (BMI) Screening and Follow-Up Plan. To fulfill this measure height and weight must be measured within 6 months of each prior visit and “self-reported” values cannot be used. This means the practitioner must measure height and weight using a scale and height measuring device and cannot allow the patient to verbally provide the data.

Height is also important to measure in aging adults. Practitioners should have an accurate baseline of the patient’s height and measure height with each visit. If height starts to trend downward it can possibly signify a health problem such as osteoporosis.

Why is Height Rod Accuracy Important?

When practitioners measure patient weight they require accuracy and there should be the same requirement when measuring height. Misreading or miscalculating height by just half an inch can incorrectly categorize someone’s BMI as overweight or throw off the tracking of a child’s growth. Medical staff must all be trained on the correct way to read height rod measurements. Additionally, if the facility is using an electronic height rod the accuracy of the measurements needs to be considered. Facilities should evaluate the product’s technology and ensure that the measurements are precise and not relying on an estimate.  

Are There Different Types of Height Rods?

Some facilities have a scale that includes a height rod, but for those that don’t they can purchase a stand-alone device. Several types of height rods are available in the market including digital or mechanical, free-standing or wall-mounted. Along with the structural design of the height rod there are other options such as a fixed or adjustable measuring range and centimeter only or metric and imperial measurements. Devices are also available to measure a baby’s length. Practitioners can choose the type of height rod they need based on their patient population, office layout and workflow.    

Healthcare facilities need to evaluate if and how they are measuring patient height. Consider if they are utilizing a height rod and if they are using height data to enhance patient care. Click here to view the line of Height Measuring Instruments from Health o meter Professional Scales.