Experts Say Fitbit Watches Can Predict The Flu Outbreak In Real-Time

Experts Say Fitbit Watches Can Predict The Flu Outbreak In Real-Time


A study in the United States has revealed that data of heart rate and sleep obtained from Fitbit wearable smart watches can help predict the real-time flu outbreak. It can help health officials to predict the flu epidemic more accurately than existing surveillance methods. Wearable Fitbit tracker watch tracks the sleep time, movement, and heart rate. Researchers from Scripps Research Translational Institute have assessed the de-identified data from the users wearing wearable Fitbit watches. They have found out that they can easily predict the signs of flu outbreak with the help of the data obtained from the Fitbit tracker watches. The privacy policy of the Fitbit company allows the use of users’ de-identified data for research work. For the first time, sleep and heart rate tracker data have been used to evaluate the flu outbreak.

The new research included data from more than 47000 Fitbit users across five states in the US. It indicated that data obtained from wearable Fitbit watches has accelerated and improved the prediction of the flu outbreak. The participants of the study have been in the average age group of 43 years. Sixty percent of them have been women. When a person has flu, their heart rate tends to go up and sleep pattern starts to fluctuate. The authors of the study observed the average resting heart rate and sleep time of the users. They looked for any deviation when any measurement went out of the user’s normal range. If the resting heart rate of the users was above the average figure, it was considered abnormal. If the sleep duration of the users was not below the average sleep time, it was identified as unusual.

After assembling the users by their respective states, experts have compared the weekly flu-like illness rate reported by the US federal agency with the proportion of users above the threshold. Later the scientists were able to witness improvement in real-time flu surveillance. This study has been published in The Lancet Digital Health Journal. It has been funded by the National Institutes of Health. Experts have said that responding quickly to the influenza epidemic can prevent further transmission of the infection. According to health officials, a traditional surveillance method can take up to three weeks to predict the flu outbreak, which limits the quick response to prevent it. Well, this new revelation regarding the Fitbit watches can be a landmark discovery in the field of disease control and prevention.

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