Wearable devices could predict the flu

New study finds Fitbits can tell when you're getting sick

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Can your wearable device do more for your health than just track your steps and monitor your heart rate? Now, a new study that just might have you rethinking what it can do.

Fitbit is a popular fitness tracker on the market, and now it could help predict when you get the flu. With its data sharing, it could even help health officials predict outbreaks.

Scripps Research Translational Institute analyzed data of 47,000 users who wore their Fitbits consistently between march 2016 and march 2018 in five states. They monitored changes in users’ average heart rate and sleeping patterns to identify when the user could have the flu.

Someone suffering from the flu tends to have an elevated heart rate and changes in their sleep pattern. Researchers then compared the data to weekly flu reports in their states, put out by the U.S. centers for disease control and prevention.

The result: essentially real-time flu prediction!

Since response time is key when it comes to disease outbreaks, the authors of the study hope this can be used to improve response times for cities and states to react to flu outbreaks. As technology becomes more advanced, perhaps even getting daily, instead of weekly updates.

Traditional surveillance reporting can take one to three weeks, limiting the ability for a quick response.

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