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New ResearchKit app uses crowdsourced body temperatures to shape future of medicine

Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) has a new ResearchKit program called Feverprints, and it aims to answer an age-old question: what’s a fever?

While a fever is typically the harbinger of infection or illness, it can also signal deeper issues, like autoimmune deficiencies or auto-inflammatory diseases. BCH says that while a temperature of 98.6 is considered normal, it may not account for varying degrees of fever throughout the day or in what may be ‘normal’ from person to person.

Feverprints comes courtesy of BCH’s Innovation and Digital Health Accelerator (IDHA), where director of informatics Jared Hawkins notes, “Many factors come together to set an individual’s ‘normal’ temperature, such as age, size, time of day and maybe even ancestry.

“We want to help create a better understanding of the normal temperature variations throughout the day, to learn to use fever as a tool to improve medical diagnosis, and to evaluate the effect of fever medications on symptoms and disease course. By using ResearchKit to bring this study to iPhone, we’re able to gather more data about body temperature patterns than ever before possible.”

Feverprints will crowdsource information about personal temperature, lifestyle and overall health. It’s open to both adults and children in the US, the app asks users regularly record their temperature and answer questions about medication, symptoms they’re experiencing, as well as overall lifestyle and health.

The data will be anonymized and logged into a secure database. The team at IDHA will then mine the data to refine the normal and febrile range of body temperatures, and hope to map unique patterns of temperature they’ll call – wait for it – ‘Feverprints,’ which the team hopes will help doctors diagnose and treat infections and diseases more rapidly.

The Feverprints ResearchKit study will also monitor the performance of fever reducing medicines in real-world use cases.

If you’d like to participate, Feverprints is available in the App Store now.

> Boston Children's Hospital launches Feverprints ResearchKit study Eureka Alert