i3 | September 24, 2020

Faces of Innovation Inder Singh CEO of Kinsa

Throughout his career in public health, Inder Singh has focused on mitigating the spread of infectious diseases. While observing how public health agencies approach health crises, he has been consistently surprised by the lack of definitive, real-time data about where illnesses were taking place.

Disappointed by the underuse of technology to provide crucial knowledge, he saw a clear need to build a better tech-based, informative system to track illnesses. That’s when he established Kinsa — a public health company that builds predictive models designed to serve as an early warning system for contagious illness. Kinsa aggregates public health insights from its 1.5 million smart thermometers in use across the U.S. to identify areas at risk for increasing illness.

In a conversation with i3, Singh talks about how Kinsa is informing key stakeholders about the spread of COVID-19 and the evolution of digital health.

The onset of COVID-19 has highlighted the value of telehealth and advanced its use and adoption. What is the significance of this digital health evolution for your company?

The pandemic has not only accelerated the development of telehealth tools, but it has demonstrated why they are important for detecting and responding to outbreaks as quickly as possible. I wish it hadn’t taken a pandemic for the importance of digital health tools to come to light, but I’m grateful that our product’s ability to detect and respond to outbreaks early gives us an opportunity to save lives. Our goal is to spot little fires of infection and give decision-makers the information they need to put them out before they grow into an inferno.

Kinsa was one of the first to inform key stakeholders on the spread of coronavirus through its fever maps in March. What prompted you to be at the forefront of this issue?

A Creating awareness of the spread of infectious disease is Kinsa’s mission. We’ve long known that if we want to contain illness, early knowledge is power. We’ve been doing this work on the flu for years and have powerful data from the 1.5 million thermometers in use around the country. In March, our data clearly showed that several geographies were experiencing unusually high levels of illness above and beyond what we’d normally expect from cold and flu season. We felt we had a moral imperative to share this information so that leaders and communities could take action to stop the spread and save both lives and livelihoods.

With COVID-19 cases not slowing down and flu season coming, what are some of the challenges ahead for digital health companies?

The reality is that we will see coinfections of COVID-19 alongside the seasonal flu, common cold and other illnesses. In the big picture, that unfortunately means things will likely get worse before they get better. But the good news is that digital tools are making it easier for people to get the care and treatment they need at home whenever possible, instead of traveling to busy health centers and exposing others at work, school or in the community. We are more prepared to take actions that keep people at home when they’re contagious and protect our communities.

A big concern now is sending children back to school. How does the Kinsa for Schools program address that problem?

We’ve created an early warning system for schools that empowers leaders, teachers and parents to understand how illness is occurring on a grade by grade level and make smarter decisions. We’ve known this to be true for a long time, but this year it helps school officials answer key questions like if and when to reopen schools, when should social distancing policies be ramped up, or when should we do more cleaning and disinfecting. Real-time data makes it possible to make the right decisions for schools and communities.

I wish it hadn’t taken a pandemic for the importance of digital health tools to come to light, but I’m grateful that our product’s ability to detect and respond to outbreaks early gives us an opportunity to save lives.
Inder Singh CEO of Kinsa

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