Stanford Medicine has teamed up with Fitbit to see how useful mHealth wearables are in detecting and following infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, in college athletes. This connected health research project, which was announced today, will stretch from 2021 and consists of 1,000 student-athletes from the Pac-12 Conference who are involved in sports like basketball, football, soccer, and volleyball and who are tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis. They will be wearing a Fitbit Sense smartwatch for the duration of the study.
This project is part of a larger effort which utilizes mHealth devices and telehealth platforms in order to gain control of the pandemic. Its main purpose is to detect early signs of the virus so that infected individuals can be provided with timely medical care. John Moore, Medical Director of Fitbit Health Solutions at Google, stated in a press release that research has indicated that fluctuations in certain health metrics may be indicative of the first symptoms of the virus. With this in mind, one particular project has been launched in order to analyze the data from weekly COVID-19 testing in correlation with information from wearables. Moore believes the information gathered from this project could be immensely helpful in managing and controlling the spread of the virus, especially when considering the possibility of transmission after vaccination and the emergence of new variants.
Stanford and Fitbit have joined forces with the Scripps Research Translational Institute to analyze data from various mHealth platforms to determine how these technologies can be used to tackle the current pandemic. In May 2020, Fitbit launched a study that is indicating positive results with the use of wearables to detect the virus. Both entities, along with the Pac-12 Conference’s Student-Athlete Health & Well-Being Initiative (SAHWBI), are now working on a project to see if connected health can be used to monitor athletes as sports programs resume. Maggy Carlyle, general counsel for the Pac-12 Conference, stated in the press release, “We are devoted to making sure the education and sports activities go on safely during the pandemic, and our hope is that the findings will not only help prevent outbreaks on Pac-12 campuses, but will also benefit other educational and sports communities around the country.”