3:20 - 3:40 pmSaturday, September 6
Plenary Hall
Flu near you: Consumer-facing public health
Plenary Hall
Flu near you: Consumer-facing public health
Skoll Global Threats Fund
The fields of citizen science and eHealth are growing rapidly, bringing together patients, providers, developers and researchers to leverage technology for improved individual and public health. Public health... Read more


The fields of citizen science and eHealth are growing rapidly, bringing together patients, providers, developers and researchers to leverage technology for improved individual and public health. Public health in particular can benefit from engaging citizens in identifying outbreaks of diseases, including influenza-like illness (ILI).  ILI self-reporting systems have opened a new field of participatory disease surveillance that puts the public directly into public health. Participatory surveillance can become a crucial cornerstone of public health, helping not only better track known diseases but also catch novel diseases as they emerge. 

Flu Near You (FNY), a collaboration between the Skoll Global Threats Fund and HealthMap of Boston Children’s Hospital, allows users in the U.S. and Canada to self-report symptoms of ILI via a website or smartphone application once per week. Aggregated reports are visualized on a map, down to the zip code level, enabling the public to view ILI activity in their area. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Google Flu Trends are also made available, as are links to local public health organizations. FNY features a ‘Vaccine Finder’ tool that allows users to locate influenza vaccine near their location. FNY reminds users via email or push notification to report their symptoms (or lack thereof) once per week. As of February 2014, FNY has more than 116,000 registrations with over 68,000 active users representing every state in the U.S. and every province in Canada.

Maintaining a significantly large user base of active reporters is crucial to the success of FNY. Our 2013 user survey found that a majority of respondents (71.1%) indicated that they joined FNY because they thought, “disease tracking (surveillance) is important”.  Other common reasons for joining included “it was flu season and it seemed like a good idea” (49.2%), and “I want to know when people around me are sick” (33.6%).  When asked why they continued to use FNY, 72% of respondents said it was because “disease tracking (surveillance) is important”. A majority (61.2%) also indicated that FNY is “fast and easy” and 42.7% reported, “it makes me feel good to give back to the community”. When asked what features participants would like to see added to the system, “notifications about influenza-like illness in my area”, “notifications about other diseases in my area”, and “news stories about the flu” were the most common responses.

While a significant number of survey respondents are motivated to contribute to the system due to the perceived importance of disease reporting and a sense of contributing to the public good, in order to reach and consistently engage a broader audience the FNY team intends to continue seeking user feedback and providing system updates with useful features for users.  In this way, FNY is unique among disease surveillance systems and a rarity in a public health landscape that does not typically cater to consumer feedback. This presentation will provide an overview of the latest system updates and user engagement trends for FNY. 

Alexis de Belloy recently joined the Skoll Global Threats Fund’s pandemics team to develop and expand FluNearYou, a participatory surveillance initiative. Alexis has over a decade of experience building internet companies. Prior to joining Skoll Global Threats Fund, Alexis was Chief Revenue Officer at Vinted, a social/mobile peer-to-peer clothing marketplace. Alexis was one of the first employees of HomeAway (Nasdaq: AWAY), the world’s leading online marketplace for the vacation rental industry. He helped guide the company to IPO, first as head of all European businesses, then as SVP for North America. Before HomeAway, Alexis helped launch eBay’s European operation and ran Match.com in France and Benelux. He also founded, built and served as CEO of Fotango.com, a European online photo company that he sold to Canon. Alexis started his career in manufacturing, working for Alcatel’s optical fiber cable division in France and China.
Alexis holds mechanical and industrial engineering degree from ICAM in France and an MBA from Stanford University.
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