The winter 2017-2018 flu season rages on, with millions of U.S. victims getting very sick with a malady that takes a long time to move on. Seasonal influenza, aka the flu, has a hospitalization rate of 51.4 per 100,000 people, higher than rate recorded at this stage in previous years, according to the CDC. The rate of increase is also the steepest observed since at least 2010. More than 50 children have died from this year’s flu. The flu’s spread has been fast and wide, putting strains resources at all levels. San Francisco-based Kinsa recently announced the launch of Kinsa Insights which the company claims tracks the spread of contagious disease and the flu in real-time across the U.S.
The company says Kinsa Insights illness data correlates with CDC reports from the last two years “perfectly” (- r-squared >0.96 where 1.0 is a perfect correlation) and quickly. Kinsa manufactures a variety of smart thermometers. Compatible with iOS and Android smartphones, the thermometers transmit temperature readings via Bluetooth to the associated phone where patients or caregivers view the readings and also find access information and recommendations for care. Additionally, the data transmits to the cloud where it is anonymized and joined with data from approximately 25,000 Kinsa Smart Thermometer readings daily. This real-time data, gathered before doctors are even aware of the flu’s onset for that patient, means the public can view Kinsa Insight tracking maps before the data reaches and is processed by health authorities, a lag that Kinsa says typically falls between two to six weeks. The CDC reports disease trends by ten multi-state regions, but Kinsa Insights can display data by state, designated market area (DMA), county, or custom-defined boundaries.
Kinsa has recorded more than 10 million temperature readings from over one million U.S. users. The concept of distributed real-time data collection and reporting has the potential to radically improve the ability of regional groups and individual citizens to track and help stop the spread of disease.
Now, what actionable steps can be taken with that data? We need to make sure that we takes steps with everything we’re aggregating so that it isn’t all lost in the cloud.
Read an article in New York Times that the company gives the anonymous data to pharmacies etc so they know where to stock up on medications.