Alternative Data, Coronavirus, COVID-19

Using Smart Thermometers to Track Coronavirus Spread

Kinsa Insights, a smart thermometer health tech company known for their accurate and most geographically-precise signal for flu-like illness in the U.S., is now using real-time temperature data to track early signs of Coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country. Kinsa has managed to turn the thermometer into an IoT sensor that detects a change in health status from the moment a person falls ill.

The company then uses the anonymous data to identify illness outbreaks with granularity and earlier than anyone else (weeks before the CDC releases its outbreak data). Through the Kinsa Insights tracker, public health agencies, health organization and health & wellness brands are able to help stop outbreaks, publish informational content, etc. The New York Times highlighted that Kinsa may be the only one able to predict the actual spread of the illness ahead of CDC’s own surveillance tool FluView tracker given the lack of widespread testing for coronavirus.

Naturally, hedge funds will want this data.

How is the Data Collected?

Kinsa’s smart thermometer connects to an app where an end-user can record their temperatures as well as other symptoms. Because the data collected is anonymized, Kinsa is not able to see any individual’s protected health information (PHI). The platform is also HIPAA compliant. There is also no possible way to reverse engineer a geographic location to back into an individual’s real time location or identity.

To date, there are about 2 million users covering 70-80% of the U.S.

Kinsa’s data is really centered around fevers – and is strict about fever-range temperatures vs. confirmed COVID-19 cases. Since fever is one of the prominent and early symptoms of the illness, this is a strong data point to track. The data shows the number of people with flu-like illness – atypical fever and symptoms.

By comparing the spikes in fever reports to those typical of an area at a given time, the company has created a map of atypical illness levels in its Health Weather Map. The map provides abnormal numbers of fevers, which could be linked to localized outbreaks of COVID-19.

Hedge Fund Use Case

Since pandemics typically take a huge bite out of the stock market, hedge funds are looking to gauge coronavirus impact. Disruption in the global supply chain and possible recession means investors are dumping stocks resulting in volatile trading. Kinsa’s data allows the company and its clients to analyze how a virus moves across a state or to another country. It also shows areas that are heavily impacted and illness onset. It would make sense that the primary data points would include:

  • region/city/area impacted
  • dates of original signals
  • number of users registering symptoms
  • whether the number collected is increasing, decreasing or unchanged
  • changes in average values over a day, week, month, 3 months, etc.
  • any forecasts for coming weeks from the current date
  • how long an illness lasts, how heavily impacted a region/city is
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