Why do I need a health-context weather forecast?

Environmental factors are a determinant of health long neglected in the management of various patient health conditions including allergies and asthma.  For these conditions, being weather aware in the context of the direct impacts on the patient, will help empower them to be health prepared.  With DailyBreath we’re personalizing public health.  We’re recognizing that these weather and environmental exposures impact people individually.  So, ultimately, we want to be the weather forecast you turn to because ours gives you an idea of how your breathing will be affected today.

What are the components of this forecast?

On the HEALTHeWeather Intelligence Platform, we aggregate weather and environmental data dynamically from the Weather Channel, EPA, and pollen.com.  We generate a DailyBreath Risk Index that is accompanied by a short description of the prevailing impact for that Index rating.  When the Index is clicked, a weather detail screen presents a longer form impact summary along with the specific weather and environmental data.  Along with the DailyBreath Risk Index and the Short Impact Summary, we generate a series of daily recommendations that are generated based on the risk index and the impacts.  In this way, we are presenting the relevant health context that informs you of how you will be affected by the weather and your environment today so that you can take steps to prevent negative health outcomes.

What is the DailyBreath Index?

The initial DailyBreath Risk Index was developed following evidence-based research to better understand the correlation of weather and environmental factors on allergy and asthma symptoms for patients.  Certain weather variables converge with air quality or pollen to impact allergy and asthma patients, respectively.  The research ascertained approximate exposure thresholds that raised the risk of allergy symptoms or breathing difficulty.  The supporting evidence for the impacts of weather and environmental exposures is accessible via dailybreath.healtheweather.com.

The Air Quality Index and the Pollen Count already have rating scales that are indicators of the severity of that exposure measuring particulates or estimating pollen spores in the atmosphere.  The DailyBreath Risk Index Scale reflects the weather variable thresholds that have been shown (via evidence base) to correlate to a higher incidence of allergy symptoms or asthma attacks.  We calculate a score that estimates the increase in relative risk based on the weather variable thresholds reached for any of the following; temperature, humidity, winds, and Outlook variables including cloud cover, precipitation, and barometric pressure.

Risk Index Scale

  • Category 5 – High Risk – Crimson
  • Category 4 – Above Average Risk – Red
  • Category 3 – Average Risk – Orange
  • Category 2 – Below Average Risk – Yellow
  • Category 1 – Low Risk – Green

The magic of the app is the ability for allergy and asthma sufferers to record their flare-ups.  By leveraging near real-time flare-up tracking and using machine learning we can develop an empirically-derived population-based risk index, and, ultimately a personalized risk index for each patient/consumer based on their individual susceptibility to exposures.

So, what’s a flare-up?

That is a great question and it’s the crux of making DailyBreath valuable to you.  We have little understanding of outdoor triggers; the weather and the environment surrounding an allergy or asthma sufferer.  We really want to understand the conditions that are present when even the earliest onset symptoms are experienced.  If you have allergies, is there a time, place, or conditions when your symptoms worsen even after you’ve taken allergy medicines.  If you have asthma, anytime it is necessary for you to use your quick-relief medication, it’s likely you’ve experienced a flare-up.  But, you may just experience a time when it is harder to breathe or you feel yourself laboring.  If so, it may be the right time and place to record your flare-up.

What happens when I record my flare-up?

DailyBreath collects a time stamp and your geographical location (either via GPS or city, state).  It records the weather and environmental data at that time and for that place.  For your protection, the saved flare-up data which is transmitted does not contain any Personal Identifiable Information (PII), which includes first name, last name, and e-mail address.  Every saved flare-up entry is securely encrypted and transmitted via HTTPS protocol to a database managed by Amazon Web Services.

Why should I record my flare-up?

DailyBreath refines its original DailyBreath Risk Index by applying all flare-up data to machine learning to develop a population-based DailyBreath Risk Index and, ultimately, once sufficient flare-ups for you have been recorded, into a personalized DailyBreath Risk Index that reflects your individual susceptibility to certain weather and environmental conditions.

What is the DailyBreath Community Flare-Up Map?

The aggregate anonymous database of DailyBreath community user’s data may be used to display loci on geographical maps where symptoms or flare-ups occur as well as, in the future, provide alerts to users dynamically based on other users’ who are experiencing flare-ups close to their geographic location.  This community flare-up map also holds great promise for defining where specific patient populations experience symptoms that often lead to negative health outcomes.  You must choose to opt-in if you wish to enable the sharing of your flare-up in the DailyBreath Community Flare-Up Map.  If you don’t, you are welcome to continue you using the application, your flare-ups just won’t be available to the community at large.  We’ll still record your flare-ups and make the data available to you for your own personal use.

I have a respiratory condition that is not allergy-related or asthma.  How relevant is the DailyBreath Risk Index to my condition?

Generally, the risk index represents relative risk in experiencing allergy symptoms or breathing difficulty.  Thus, it certainly may be helpful.  However, each condition is also unique.  In the case of COPD, we separated it out as part of a future upgrade because there is specific evidence of different correlations and thresholds than those for allergies or asthma.  We hope to introduce COPD as a selected condition option in Winter 2017.