Tracking the flu

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Tracking the flu New app seeks to allow parents to monitor classroom illnesses By Sheridan Hendrix More Content Now

This flu season, select schools across the nation are participating in a school program aimed at keeping kids healthy through smart technology. FLUency is a national health program created by Kinsa, a San Francisco-based health technology company that manufactures smart thermometers. Through a partnership with Kinsa and Lysol, the disinfectant company, school families, teachers and staff are eligible to receive a free smart thermometer. The FDA-approved thermometers, which retail for about $20, connect to an app that not only tracks a child’s illness, but also allows parents to see what illnesses are going around school. A coupon for Lysol products is included with thermometers. “These thermometers help track and reduce the spread of illness in classrooms,” said Nita Nehru, a Kinsa spokeswoman. “Having more information about what is going around your children’s classes allows parents to make smarter decisions about your family’s health.” While the app doesn’t diagnose a child based solely on temperature, Nehru said parents can input other important information about their child’s illness, including symptoms, any medicine administered and a doctor’s diagnosis. Parents can also get recommendations for treat-

Parents can input important information about their child’s illness, including symptoms, any medicine administered and a doctor’s diagnosis. [KINSA PHOTOS]

ment options, including how soon a child should see a doctor. Parents who receive a thermometer join a group in the Kinsa app of their child’s school. Information shared in the app is doesn’t identify specific students, and is analyzed and aggregated by Kinsa to create a report on the health of the school. The report shows how many children have been sick in the last week, what symptoms are going around the school and what grade levels are being affected. Kinsa uses the aggregate data from its network of users to create what it calls an “illness signal,” which comprises indicators that represent the percent of an area’s population afflicted with an illness. These anonymous signals help reduce the spread of illness, which Nehru said is the company’s main goal. In Newark, Ohio, all of the district’s seven elementary schools were selected to participate in the Primary Care. Dental. program. The district hasn’t Counseling. Family Planning. received any push-back from Everyone welcome. parents with Most insurances accepted. concerns about Call 315-536-2752 for an appointment today.

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sharing personal information, said Seth Roy, district spokesman. “We don’t receive any identifiable information from people who use the app,” Roy said. School nurses also have the option to write notes to parents using the app, something Olivia Haas takes full advantage of as Cherry Valley Elementary School’s nurse. Haas, who has used a Kinsa thermometer for years, applied for the FLUency program last year just for her school. Approximately 500 schools are participating nationally in the program this year. Haas said more than 11,000 schools applied to the program. Haas said one reason the program was so successful last year is because of the number of parents using the app. “The more people that are able to participate, the more accurate the data is for the health of the building,” Haas said. “It helps us keep a better gauge of what’s going on in the district.” That became apparent last year during flu season, Haas said. The Ohio Department of Health reported more than 17,000 flu-related hospitalization cases for the 2017-18 flu season, a five-year record high. While the other district elementary schools saw a lot of absences