What You Need to Know:
– Alliance for Better (Alliance) to distribute 7,500 Kinsa Health smart thermometers to community-based organizations to protect CBO workers and underserved individuals in New York’s Capital District.
– By using this simple tool to detect potential signs of the coronavirus, those social services workers can then be isolated to reduce the potential spread of the virus to their co-workers, and to the community members they serve.
– Kinsa Health’s smart thermometers include a patient-facing mobile app that prompts users to enter symptoms they may be experiencing while also monitoring their temperature and providing basic advice about whether they should seek medical attention.
Alliance for Better Health (Alliance) announced that it is leading a collaborative effort to secure and distribute approximately 7,500 smart thermometers to community-based organizations (CBOs) and the community members they serve in New York’s Capital District. The internet-connected smart thermometers, produced by Kinsa Health, include a patient-facing mobile app that prompts users to enter symptoms they may be experiencing while also monitoring their temperature and providing basic advice about whether they should seek medical attention. The smart thermometers will be distributed to approximately 35 partner organizations, ranging from local homeless shelters to regional hospitals and health plans.
Smart Thermometer Initiative Distribution Overview
The goal of the initiative is for workers to be able to regularly track their temperatures so they can seek medical care and possibly testing if they spike a temperature and/or are showing other potential signs of COVID-19. By using this simple tool to detect potential signs of the virus, those social services workers can then be isolated to reduce the potential the spread of the virus to their co-workers, and to the community members they serve.
In addition, some of the thermometers will be distributed to clients of the social services organizations who receive Medicaid or who are uninsured. As an added bonus, the smart thermometers also collect de-identified data that can be used to track COVID-19 hotspots, which can be helpful for resource management planning.
While a number of the smart thermometers will go directly to the underserved, the vast majority will be distributed to workers at the CBOs—such as food pantries and organizations that assist with housing—that provide valuable social support to those at-risk during a time when continuity of services are needed more than ever before.
Peter Kelsey, chief operating officer of The Altamont Program, which provides residential services to hundreds of people throughout the Capital District, is receiving 700 thermometers.
“We’re pleased to be working with Alliance for Better Health and its partner organizations on this smart thermometer program, so that our employees and our clients have a valuable tool to help us be proactive in evaluating their health,” Kelsey said. “This will provide peace of mind to the heads of household and their children who often get left behind by the system, especially when they’re in shelters.”
Kelsey added: “Additionally, the thermometers will give us the ability to monitor new admissions and know in advance if they are potentially infected, allowing us to keep anyone who may be high risk separated from the general population until a formal evaluation can be made. This program can help reduce the spread of the virus, while empowering our community members and reminding them that they can make a meaningful impact on their own and others’ wellbeing.”
Some of the CBOs are using the thermometers to work with their clients in innovative ways, such as Food Pantries for the Capital District, which provides groceries to those in need with 3.3 million meals annually.
“We will begin distributing the internet-connected thermometers to local food pantries soon,” said Natasha Pernicka, executive director of Food Pantries for the Capital District. “They will be used to predict the potential spread of COVID-19 in real time by recording fevers as soon as they’re experienced, and the data will be used to populate an interactive map that can track the spread of viruses to specific regions.”
By doing that type of tracking, Pernicka says, the organization will have a heads-up about areas that may need their services most, since there’s a correlation between those who are food insecure and COVID-19 vulnerability.