Canada-based Carebook, a new member of the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), has developed a smartphone app with Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital.
Available on both iOS & Android mobile devices, the Carebook myVitals App gives users a clearer understanding of two major vital signs, which could be useful not just for general health purposes, but also for travelers before or during a trip.
Carebook has been around for five years and describes itself as “a wellness platform for people to manage their health much more proactively.” The company believes its technology and solutions can support travel industry recovery by enabling travelers to feel safer and more confident managing their health wherever they go.
The app asks users to complete a COVID-19 survey and then accesses their smartphone camera to take a selfie. It studies the reflection of light on a person’s face in the selfie to measure their heart rate and oxygen saturation in real time without storing any images of the face. The rationale is that respiratory illnesses, like seasonal flu, often present an elevated heart rate and low oxygen saturation, and studies have shown this pattern to occur in patients with COVID-19.
“This app does not diagnose COVID. The only way to diagnose COVID is by doing a PCR or antigen test, but this allows you to manage your situation much more effectively from a peace of mind standpoint,” explained Dr. Sheldon Elman, executive chairman and majority owner of Carebook. Elman is a practising physician and has run the executive medical programme for Air Canada for the past 35 years.
“We’ve designed algorithms that say whether you should seek medical advice, stay home, or alternatively that you’re good to go to a football stadium or get on a plane,” he said. “It’s up to the user to decide if they want to share the data with their family doctor, or hook into their electronic patient record for further advice.”
Carebook is offering the app to many airlines, including Air Canada, with whom it’s having exploratory discussions. “We’ve also had discussions on how the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system can play a key role in this experience…[by] providing additional health and wellness support and recommendations,” added Nick Clements, Carebook’s VP Marketing. “We’re very interested to work closely with in-flight technologies partners to collaborate on the opportunities to better serve the passenger while in the air.”
To allay privacy concerns, the app can take readings offline. This is an intentional feature based on knowledge that COVID tracing apps have seen poor uptake due to anxieties over governments or insurance companies accessing people’s personal data. It doesn’t store the selfies taken, either. “Carebook complies with the most rigorous regulation and standards in the industry,” said Clements. “Personal information, identity information and health information is never shared with any third party without the user’s consent.”
“The race is on for brands to re-establish themselves with tools that trust and loyalty with consumers. We are exploring various partnerships to accommodate travelers’ needs to manage and decrease the risk associated with COVID-19, and in addition to keep chronic issues under control and get medical assistance, medication and advice wherever they are,” Clements continued.
Carebook is encouraging APEX members in the IFE space to get in contact, with a view to bringing technology-based health solutions to every single passenger before, during and after their flights.