Using technology to track progress of flu virus

New innovations could be a game changer for public health

The days of doctors and nurses being able to predict the precise dates their emergency rooms will be overrun with patients aren’t far off, thanks to new devices that have proven particularly effective during this winter’s flu outbreak.

Makers of the smart thermometer Kinsa are able to take individual readings to predict a surge in fever and a possible influx of patients to hospitals or emergency rooms. Using data from over 1 million U.S. homes, Kinsa can track fever and predict impact over a broad area or population via algorithm.

The Sacramento Bee reported that Kinsa indicated 270,000 Bay Area residents were showing signs of flu the week before Christmas. By Christmas week, that number had risen to 313,500 and in the first week of 2018, the estimate had leapt to 362,600.

Sure enough, data showed that flu season peaked in California during those first weeks of 2018—but not until early February in the rest of the country.

“We got predictions that were… 10 to 50 percent better at predicting the spread of flu than when we used CDC data alone,” researcher Aaron Miller said. “In the future, if you had granular information from the devices and you had enough information, you could imagine doing analysis on a really local level to inform things like school closings.”

SOURCE: Sacramento Bee

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