Boston Children's Hospital launches app-based study to research fevers

A digital health venture by Boston Children's Hospital will focus on the integration of mHealth into research on a particular illness--in this case, fever. 

The new app, Feverprints, with be developed on Apple's ResearchKit platform, with an aim to provide a deeper understanding of normal temperature variations by tracking and monitoring lifestyle and health information. Such insight can potentially lead to better care, according to study leads at the hospital's Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator (IDHA) and Autoinflammatory Diseases Clinic.

The Feverprints app prompts users to record temperatures and answer queries regarding lifestyle, medication and any current health symptoms. The research team hopes to refine the range of body temperatures of febrile and normal and create unique patterns of temperature--the feverprints--to boost diagnosis with infections and disease on a more accurate scale, according to an announcement.

"Individual users can share as little [or as much] data as they feel comfortable with. While frequent data has tremendous value, even single data points will help us shed light on meaningful differences between individuals and diseases," Jared Hawkins, Ph.D., director of informatics for IDHA and a Feverprints team lead, told FierceMobileHealthcare via email.

Hawkins said ResearchKit is transforming research by making it easier for patients to be involved in studies and by boosting engagement because of how quickly they can share data.

"We plan to add additional engagement features to the app in the near future, for example allowing users to see how their data has specifically helped us better understand normal and elevated temperatures, and how they as individuals compare to the population as a whole," he said. "We don't have to wait until the study is over to begin to feed our results back to the user, which really drives home the power of participatory real-time research."

Feverprints is Boston Children's Hospital's second ResearchKit-based app: C-Tracker, the initial ResearchKit app, was launched in 2015 to collect data on real-world impacts of hepatitis C to boost patient treatment.

Hawkins said lessons learned in the first app effort played a part in the second.

"One of the major lessons we learned from C-Tracker was how to best link anonymized data from ResearchKit to our servers at the hospital, securely and at-scale," he said. "There are a number of commercial solutions for this, but none of them offered the flexibility that we needed. Fortunately, the C-Tracker team developed open-source software to accomplish this (called C3-PRO), which we have leveraged for Feverprints."

For more information:
- read the announcement