No matter where you look, from brewing coffee with Keurig machines to making payments by swiping Apple Pay and Google Wallet, technology is creating change. The case is no different the health care world. Take a look at this “smart” thermometer that can plug into your phone, take someone’s temperature, track when medications were taken, and store results and health information in a mobile app to share with your doctor. All for $19.99.
The Kinsa Smart Thermometer & Health Tracker tests body temperature through a thermometer that plugs into your compatible smartphone. The device comes in a sleekly designed box and holding case – it’s like unpacking a new iPhone or Samsung smartphone.
The thermometer itself is blue with a soft grip and feels durable to the touch. At one end is the thermometer sensor, and at the other end is a 3.5mm plug that fits into the headphone jack of your phone.
You can tell right away that this device would be useful for adults, but also for squirming kids who don’t want to sit still for anything.
Upon selecting the “Stick Thermometer” option, the first in a series of directional videos plays. These are extremely helpful and well done, and you can repeat them as necessary during set-up. The first video asks you to find the Lot Number on the back of the device. Once entered, select “Next.”
Step 1: Set-Up Adapter
A quick video goes through the contents of the case (thermometer, a white extension cord, a black set-up adapter, and instructions/use indications). Ultimately you’re prompted to find the black set-up adapter, and asked to tell the app you’ve found it before proceeding.
Steps 2 & 3: Connecting the Kinsa to Your Phone
Two quick videos show you how to connect the Kinsa thermometer to the set-up adapter, and then both pieces to the phone. After a few seconds, the app will notify you that the phone is reading the thermometer, and that you can plug it directly into the phone.
Note: Before using the device, you will be asked by the Kinsa app to access your location while using the app. This is up to you – definitely not mandatory. We’ll explain later why they ask for this information. You may also be asked to be sent notifications from the app.
When you’re ready to take a temperature, you’ll be able to choose from oral, under arm, or rectal readings. Once you select where you want to administer the thermometer and begin taking the temperature, the app displays an interactive mini-game to distract children. The screen displays bubbles, and the goal is to touch the screen and break them.
Typically the reading takes 10-15 seconds, from our testing. See below for a full recap and averages.
You’ll also be prompted to create a profile for the person whose temperature you’re taking. The Kinsa app allows you to create profiles for your family members that track history of temperature and symptoms. This is very easy to do and doesn’t require much information.
Saving a Reading
Once the reading is complete, you can either retake the temperature or save the readout. The app also allows you to:
*Add symptoms like chills, fatigue, body aches, cough, earaches, and more. This allows you to go back and match symptoms with temperature readings, times of day, and more the next time you or a family member are sick.
*Add notes to a reading to help you remember specific complications, additional symptoms, medications taken, etc.
*Take/upload a picture to the notes to help you remember any physical attributes – rashes, redness of the throat, stools (you have to be brave for this one!), etc.
*Share your reading as an image file with a physician (or anyone else) via email or text.
Besides temperature readings, here are some of the additional functions of the Kinsa app.
*Finding Groups: The app has a list of groups – such as schools – uploaded into a database. You can search for a school or search by your location to find groups near you. (This is the reason the app asks to access your location.) The idea is to check and see if there are other people sick/experiencing health issues near you or your child. You can ask questions and add notes, see other people’s messages to see if symptoms are similar, and invite others to join. View more information about Kinsa Groups.
*Apple HealthKit: Kinsa’s app will plug into Apple HealthKit. Any body temperature readings taken after syncing the two apps will appear in the HealthKit for you to track along with other health readings.
Sleek & Well-Built: We really liked the Kinsa thermometer and app because of their combined ability to blend the basic diagnostic testing of a thermometer with the convenience of smartphone use. All information is saved in one place – temperature readings, symptoms, medications taken, everything.
Fast & Accurate: We compared Kinsa with some standard thermometers and found the oral and under arm temperature readings on the Kinsa to be as quick and accurate as the others – many times even faster. The speed of the rectal reading on a 7-month old baby was slower (although we only tried it once, and we did not proceed with any rectal readings on adults). These were our results:
*Adult, Oral – Tested 10x, average reading in 10-15 seconds, +/- .3 degrees difference
*Adult, Under Arm – Tested 10x, average reading in 15-20 seconds, +/- .4 degrees difference
*7-Month Old, Oral – Tested 5x, average reading in 15-20 seconds, +/- .3 degrees difference
*7 Month Old, Under Arm – Tested 5x, average reading in 15-20 seconds, +/- .3 degrees difference
*7 Month Old, Rectal – Tested 1x, reading in 35 seconds
Use of Groups: We really like the idea of having the groups available for parents and communities. Whether this feature will gain traction remains to be seen, but in general we believe that devices and applications like Kinsa’s are where the future of health care processes and treatment are heading.
Works Better with Extension Cord: We found that using the extension cord works better and is easier to use for parents working with their children. The cord allows for kids to see the screen better to help with interactivity (and distraction!), and the extra length offers more flexibility.