Study: Wearable thermometer combined with Thermia educational tool predicts influenza outbreaks faster

Research findings published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that a wearable thermometer used with the Thermia online and mobile health educational tool was able to predict seasonal influenza outbreaks in China one month earlier than the country's current influenza monitoring system. Lead author Yulin Hswen said "the fact that we were able to predict influenza outbreaks faster than China's national surveillance programmes really shows the capacity for everyday, wearable digital health devices to track the spread of disease at the population level."

In the study, researchers retrieved nearly 45 000 observations from Thermia users in China between 2014 to 2016. The tool, which allows parents to monitor their child's fever and infectious febrile illnesses, works as a standalone digital application or it can receive a child's temperature reading directly through Raiing Medical's FDA-approved iThermonitor, a patch-like thermometer that is worn under the arm. Monthly aggregated influenza-like illness case counts from Thermia users were then compared against monthly case counts obtained from China's National Health and Family Planning Commission, which typically conducts influenza surveillance by reporting cases seen by clinicians at health facilities.

The authors concluded that "digital health applications could supplement traditional influenza surveillance systems in China by providing access to consumers' symptom reporting." They added that the increasing "use of commercial digital health applications in China potentially affords opportunities to support disease detection and monitoring and rapid treatment mobilisation."

Hswen noted that "in geographically large and densely populated countries like China, tools like Thermia can provide better on-the-ground disease surveillance than by relying on data that is only captured at the point of treatment in the clinic." 

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