New smartwatch app could detect if healthcare workers are unwell

A new smartwatch app is being developed by Australian researchers that monitors the vital signs of healthcare workers and advises whether they are fine to go to work or if they should stay home and get tested for COVID-19.

Researchers at The Alfred hospital, together with Deakin University, have created the app, which uses the heart rate and blood oxygen (SpO2) sensors in Samsung’s Galaxy Watch4 smartwatch, with an app that requires workers to answer questions about their health every morning before they go to work.

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

A new smartwatch app is being developed by researchers that could indicate signs of illness among healthcare workers. (Supplied Nine)

“We have recently looked at having an agreement where we can actually capture data from the Samsung watch and then incorporate that into a questionnaire profile and then say, are people feeling unwell, how does that correlate to some of the biometric data or their heart rate data?” he said.

“It ensures that workplaces stay safe.”

The data from the app and the smartwatch is provided to a decision support system that informs the worker to stay home.

If the worker has been cleared, a QR code is generated which can be scanned by the workplace.

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Acting Director of Emergency at Alfred Health Dr Carl Luckhoff. (Nine)

However, it would not be able to determine if the worker had COVID-19, just give indications they may be potentially unwell.

“It is not about a binary yes or no, you can’t come to work,” Dr Luckhoff said.

“It is actually just highlighting people who are potentially unwell and therefore have the opportunity to take a step back and say, ‘am I perhaps exposing other people if I come to work with symptoms or signs that I am experiencing?’

“I think it is about being safe and creating opportunities for people to highlight when they are feeling unwell, and thereby keeping workplaces safe overall.”


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