Oura biometric wearable tested with healthcare professionals for early coronavirus detection

Oura biometric wearable tested with healthcare professionals for early coronavirus detection

A national study of a biometric wearable for early onset detection of COVID-19 has been launched, with Oura Rings worn by frontline healthcare workers to capture temperature and a range of holistic measures, including behavioral biometric assessments of stress and anxiety, WVUToday reports.

A similar study to track body temperature to detect the virus was recently launched meanwhile in San Francisco, as 2,000 or more emergency medical workers at multiple healthcare sites began wearing rings from the company, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Oura Rings measure blood pulse volume to determine heart and respiratory rate, and track sleep in addition to body temperature.

The national study was announced by the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, WVU Medicine, and Oura Health, and aims to provide “digital PPE” to identify infected workers before they become symptomatic. According to the report, tracking the mind-body connection and homeostasis can enable the prediction of physical symptoms associated with COVID-19.

The wearables and smartphone app have been deployed to physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers in emergency departments, intensive care units, testing sites, and urgent care settings in West Virginia, WVUToday writes. RNI plans to roll the study out nationally through partnerships with hospitals in New York City, Philadelphia, Nashville and other areas.

“We are continuously monitoring the mind-body connectivity through our integrated neuroscience platform measuring the autonomic nervous system, fatigue, anxiety, circadian rhythms, and other human resilience and recovery functions,” comments WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute Executive Chair Dr. Ali Rezai. “Our AI-driven models are currently predicting symptoms 24 hours prior to onset, and we are working toward a three-plus day forecast. This forecasting capability will help us get ahead of this pandemic; limit the spread to protect healthcare workers, their families, and our communities; and improve our understanding of health recovery.”

Staff at UCSF Medical Center and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital began wearing the rings this week, and UCSF has launched a campaign to ask the other 150,000 Oura Ring wearers to share their medical data to help researchers develop an algorithm to detect coronavirus at its earliest stages, before the carrier exhibits symptoms.

This would allow early treatment and isolation, and keep infected healthcare professionals from inadvertently spreading the illness. The team hopes to develop an early detection device for COVID-19 by the time of the potential second wave of the outbreak in the fall.

“It will help people self-quarantine sooner, get treatment sooner,” said UCSF Assistant Psychiatry Professor Dr. Ashley Mason, lead investigator and developer of the project. “It’s expected back in the fall and we need to have tools ready.”

Mason was researching the effects of saunas and extreme heat on depression when UCSF shut down all non-essential research. She had been using the rings as a non-invasive way to track body temperature, and in discussion with Oura Health CEO Harpreet Rai, hit on the idea of deploying the device to medical facilities.

A containment strategy used in Wuhan was to require daily fever reporting of residents, and begin quarantine procedures for anyone with an elevated temperature. Oura Rings provide a more accurate measurement, as they account for fluctuations that can impact thermometer readings, according to the report.

The Chronicle notes that a Finnish man who was wearing one of the rings was recently tipped off by the device to subtle signs he may have caught the virus, and tested positive for COVID-19 despite feeling normal.

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