A new smartwatch app could detect if healthcare workers are unwell

Australian researchers are coming out with a new smartwatch app that monitors healthcare workers’ vital signs and advises whether they should go to work or stay at home and get tested for COVID-19.

The app, which uses the heart rate and blood oxygen (SpO2) sensors in Samsung’s Galaxy Watch4 smartwatch, was developed by researchers at The Alfred Hospital and Deakin University. It requires workers to answer questions about their health every morning before they go to work.

Dr Carl Luckhoff, Acting Director of Emergency at Alfred Health, told Today that the app’s wellbeing questionnaire worked with data from the smartwatch.

They recently have an agreement where they can actually take data from the Samsung watch and then include it into a questionnaire profile. That way by connecting to some of the biometric data or their heart rate data, they can see if people are feeling unwell.

The app and the smartwatch info is sent into a decision-making system, which tells the worker to stay at home. When a worker is cleared, a QR code is created the workplace may scan that.

However, it would not determine whether the worker had COVID-19, only that they were perhaps unwell.

He added that it’s just identifying people who are possibly ill so that they can take a step back and think about whether they’re exposing other people if they come to work with symptoms or symptoms that they’re experiencing.

He believes it is about being safe and providing opportunities for people to express themselves when they are ill, therefore making workplaces safe in general.

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