Scripps studying health data from wearable devices to detect coronavirus, viral illnesses more quickly

The Scripps Research Translational Institute launched an application-based research program to analyze patients' wearable health data to identify signs of coronavirus and other fast-spreading viral illnesses, per a March 25 news release.

The study is open to members of the public who are at least 18 years old and use a smartwatch or activity tracker, such as an Apple Watch or Fitbit. Participants have the option to share their EHR data with the Scripps researchers as well as their heart rate, activity levels, sleep data and logged respiratory symptoms and diagnostic results.

"In light of the ongoing flu season and the global pandemic of COVID-19, we see enormous opportunity to enhance disease tracking for improved population health," said Jennifer Radin, PhD, an epidemiologist at the Scripps Research Translational Institute and leader of the study, according to the news release. "One way to do this is to leverage and analyze the rich health data that's already being collected by the millions of Americans who regularly use wearable devices."

By examining individual users' health data changes on a daily basis, the research team hopes to identify when a participant has a viral infection much earlier in its course to start treatment and isolation earlier.

Individuals who choose to participate in the study must consent to sharing their data by downloading the MyDataHelps mobile app. Scripps Research partnered with health tech company CareEvolution, which supports the secure exchange of clinical health data, to develop the app-based study. 


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