The no-contact thermometer that’s helping in the fight against Ebola in West Africa will soon be available for use in American households.
The Thermoflash no-contact infrared thermometer is already being used by the U.S. Army and NATO. It takes the temperature of the temporal artery, located on the side of the head. The temporal artery is connected to other major arteries in the body and is considered a good gauge of body temperature.
This device also has a probe that measures ambient temperature, unlike other no-contact thermometers. The thermometer can be used with tremendous accuracy even in harsh climates like those in Sub-Saharan Africa by calculating the environmental conditions.
Thermoflash recently won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The thermometer is being unveiled to the American public this week at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Company officials plan to discuss their product with distributors and to have it on store shelves within the next few months.
In the Ebola outbreak zone in Africa, Thermoflash thermometers have given doctors and nurses a way to quickly take the temperatures of masses of people without the risk of transmitting Ebola though body contact. The thermometer displays a read-out in just one second.
Last month, Thermoflash maker Visiomed shipped 6,500 thermometers to the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance for use in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
No-contact thermometers are already available in the United States, but they’re the kind either waved over the forehead or placed inside the ear canal. Both models are popular with parents of young children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that taking temperatures rectally is considered the most accurate. But this unpleasant method doesn’t go over well with many people, especially children. Some children even protest when a thermometer is put in their mouth.
Inventor Wanted an Easier Way to Take His Child’s Temperature
In an exclusive interview with Healthline, Dr. Francois Teboul, medical director of Paris-based Visiomed, explained that it was a frustrated parent who brought about the Thermoflash.
Eric Sebban is the creator of Thermoflash and now president and CEO of Visiomed. He had a child with an illness that required his temperature to be taken frequently.
“He thought there should be another way,” other than the oral and rectal options, Teboul said. He added that thermometers that take the temperature of the inner ear aren’t considered accurate for small children.
Thermoflash uses infrared technology to measure the heat coming from the temporal artery. The thermometer is held between 3 and 5 centimeters away from the artery. The artery runs along the temple on the side of the head. Teboul said the surface of the person’s skin should be dry. He said temporal thermometers aren’t appropriate for extremely ill people. That includes those in intensive care.
Teboul added that the thermometer needs about 15 minutes to adjust when moving from one environment to another. He also cautioned that Thermoflash needs to be kept away from wind or powerful air conditioning units.
Researchers showed in a clinical trial that a previous generation of Thermoflash performed just as well as a glass thermometer containing mercury.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, told Healthline there’s a need for no-contact thermometers that can deliver accurate results in any environment.
"Infrared no-contact thermometers are advantageous because they are accurate, require no touching of the patient, eliminating the need for decontamination, and are easy to use,” he said.
Sanitizing medical devices can be time-consuming and costly for hospitals and other frequent thermometer users. For example, workers toss out up to 6,000 disposable plastic thermometer covers every year at Simone Veil Hospital in France. This costs the hospital as much as $75,000 annually.
Thermoflash Part of Increasingly Popular ‘Internet of Things’
Thermoflash not only offers a quick, accurate way to take a person’s temperature, but it also interacts with various other monitoring devices.
Visiomed offers a host of apps intended to monitor health under the brand BewellConnect. Teboul noted that not everyone’s temperature is the same. The company is studying how to use its technology to help people determine their baseline temperature. “The threshold of fever is different from one person to another,” he told Healthline.
A person’s temperature varies throughout the day. It tends to be lower in elderly people and in athletes, Teboul said. A woman’s menstrual cycle also can affect her body temperature.
A personalized app can help a person take better control of his or her health data. Such apps are part of a phenomenon known as the “Internet of Things,” or IOT. The IOT is revolutionizing the way Americans approach their health.
A&D Medical released a survey conducted by Harris Poll along with the Las Vegas show this week. The online study of more than 2,000 adults showed that 56 percent of Americans don’t mind having their health monitored with connected devices and uploaded to the cloud.
The most common things Americans want monitored? Blood pressure (37 percent), weight (33 percent), a chronic illness (25 percent), sleep (23 percent), and physical activity levels (22 percent).
What do Americans not want monitored? Their sexual activity. Just 5 percent said they would be willing to reveal that information.
Photos courtesy of Visiomed