PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Trying to figure out how your family is going to handle flu season? Want to know how many kids in your child's grade are sick with the flu?

There's an app for that.

[WATCH: New 'smart thermometer' helps parents track flu in Phoenix]

Kinsa, a company that tracks health trends nationwide partnered with Lysol to give schools free smart thermometers to hand out to parents. The smart thermometer uses Bluetooth technology to sync to the free Kinsa app (available for both iOS and Android) on a parent's smartphone. It also collects and shares health info in real time.

[RELATED: Doctors warn that a serious flu season could be on the horizon]

Kinsa reps say the goal of the program is "earlier detection and earlier response to spreading illnesses in schools so students can stay in class learning."

"Kinsa has created the world’s first real time detection and response communication system to understand where illness is spreading and connect people to the products, services, and information that will help them get better."

This is the fifth year for Kinsa's nationwide FLUency program, but this is the first year Alhambra Traditional School near 27th Avenue and Bethany Home Road signed up to participate.

Out of the 800 students enrolled, 100 smart thermometers have been passed out to families at ATC, some of them with more than one child in their household. Parents create a profile and voluntarily take their child's temperature and click on the symptoms listed on the app. The data is then aggregated to build a picture of how many kids are sick in child's grade level.

[RELATED: Where do kids pick up the most germs? You might be surprised]

ATS parents just got their free smart thermometers on Friday, so the school nurse hasn't seen any data yet. Once families start using the thermometer and app, the school nurse can see a chart showing the number of sick students by grade level. Parents can, too.

"I actually had no idea this type of technology existed," said ATS mom Katy Ugarte. "Sometimes you go to the doctor and you don't remember everything. It's like taking notes for you." 

She added, "I find it very helpful. The app is very private. It just shows the grade level. It gives you an idea if they've been in contact with the flu so we know how to better prepare as parents."

Other parents haven't signed up to use the smart thermometers for various reasons. Some skeptical about the privacy policy and if other parents will be able to figure out which child is sick even though names aren't shared. 

Kinsa app reps assure the app is private and must comply with HIPAA and state laws. 

Administrators at ATS believe the Fluency program will help with early detection and reduce the spread of the flu and other illnesses.

"It's exciting. It's bringing technology into a paper pencil world," said the schools outreach coordinator Amanda Stegen. "We wanted to bring in this program to help alleviate absences and empower our parents. It's a tool where they can see if there are trends in the classroom whether to keep their kid at home, take him to the doc, or they're fine, take them to school." 

Dr. David Bolman and the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe said as with any app, it's important to read and understand Kinsa's privacy policy and to know that it's possible for hackers to get their hands on your information.

"It's the same kind of thing with Kinsa as it is with Apple Watch, Fitbits, all those devices," he explained. "All those devices collect that same type of information, and we have to take wise steps to make sure that our software is up to date, our hardware is up to date, and we know who we're sharing it with and, if we're not comfortable, turn it off." 

He also suggested checking the privacy policy at least once a year to check if there are changes to how any app shares your information.

SCHOOLS PASSING OUT FREE THERMOMETERS TO PARENTS

Imagine Avondale in Avondale

Canon Elementary in Black Canyon City

Freedom Elementary in Buckeye

Eagle Ridge Elementary in north Phoenix

Magma Ranch in Florence

Greenbrier Elementary in Glendale

Keller Elementary in Mesa

Porter Elementary in Mesa

Hermosa Elementary in Mesa

Sonoran Science Academy in Peoria

Alhambra Traditional School in Phoenix

Byron A. Barry School in Phoenix

Cartwright Early Childhood Center Phoenix

Eagle College Prep in Phoenix

Silvestre S. Herrera School in Phoenix

Mountain View Elementary in Prescott Valley

Sandpiper Elementary School in Scottsdale

Thatcher Elementary School in Thatcher

 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

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