Chronic Condition Management, Health Plans, Health Systems, Partners, Personal Health Technology, Researchers, Workforce Health | By | 03/26/20 | 3 Minute Read

New Study To Determine If Wearable Data Can Provide Early Indication Of Viral Illness

Fitbit is proud of our long-standing partnership with The Scripps Research Translational Institute, collaborating on such projects as the All of Us research program and resting heart rate variability studies. Scripps is a nonprofit research facility that focuses on the biomedical sciences, and in 2017, was ranked the #1 most influential research institution in the world. Aggregated and anonymized Fitbit user activity and heart rate data has been helping to open new avenues of scientific discovery and unlocking new insights along the way.

Most recently, Scripps published a study in Lancet Digital Health entitled “Harnessing wearable device data to improve state-level real-time surveillance of influenza-like illness in the USA: a population-based study”, which showed that data from Fitbit wearables significantly improved the prediction of the present, the very near future, and the very recent past, of influenza-like illness.

The study showed that using resting heart rate data and other key health indicators from wearables have the potential to improve real-time influenza observation and analysis, which in turn could help public health officials respond more rapidly to outbreaks.

Building on the flu study results, Scripps has developed an app-based research study that allows US adults to choose to consent to share their wearable data to help leading scientists at the Scripps Research Translational Institute learn more about the emergence and spread of viral illness. The new DETECT study connects with wearables, including Fitbit devices, to determine if tracking changes in heart rate, activity, and sleep, at the individual level, can provide an early indication of a viral illness. The study is run through the free MyDataHelps mobile app.

Participating in the DETECT study means that by wearing your Fitbit device with heart rate tracking and choosing to share your data, you and thousands of other people may be able to help scientists better detect and respond to viral illness outbreaks. “In light of the ongoing flu season and the global pandemic of COVID-19, we see enormous opportunity to improve disease tracking for improved population health,” says Jennifer Radin, PhD, an epidemiologist at the Scripps Research Translational Institute who is leading the study. 

As a member of the Fitbit community, please consider joining DETECT. Participation is easy and secure: simply download the MyDataHelps app—found in Google Play or the App Store—and enroll in DETECT through the app. The study is designed to be as passive and unobtrusive as possible and provides you with a summary of your data every month. You may choose to leave the study at any time.

For more information about the study and how to enroll, visit

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.

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