The WNBA and NBA announce digital health partnerships for upcoming seasons

The WNBA is teaming up with Oura, and the NBA with Masimo, as a part of the leagues’ health and safety protocols.
By Mallory Hackett
11:54 am
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The WNBA is teaming up with the Oura smart ring for the upcoming season as part of the initiative to prioritize the players' and league staff’s health, safety and privacy.

This comes just a month after the NBA announced it too would provide Oura rings to all teams and league staff members.

Today the NBA announced another partnership, this time with Masimo, to supply players, coaches and staff with the MightySat fingertip pulse oximeter.

This partnership is a part of the league’s health and safety protocols that require all league members to measure their oxygen saturation, pulse and respiration rate on a daily basis.

“Fingertip pulse oximetry is an important component of the health and safety protocols that govern the NBA’s re-start in Orlando,” said Dr. John DiFiori, the NBA director of sports medicine, in a statement. “Our players, teams and staff have been quick to adapt to the Masimo technology to monitor their oxygen saturation rates, which is contributing to keeping everyone on our campus safe and healthy.”

As the WNBA season tips off in Bradenton, Florida, at the IMG Academy, Oura rings will be made available on an opt-in basis. The ring monitors body temperature, blood volume pulse, movement and sleep. The wearable feeds all of these readings through an accompanying app that uses artificial intelligence to generate insights and behavior-change suggestions for the user.

In addition, players and staff have the option to participate in Oura's Health Risk Management platform, which compiles individual user data into one company-wide dashboard. The platform gives administrators an overview of users’ health data to support early illness-detection as well as an estimation of illness probability.

To protect the privacy of the players and staff, the platform creates an aggregate risk score using changes in the wearer’s baseline body temperature, respiratory rate, resting heart rate and heart rate variability.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Both the WNBA and the NBA have created new health and safety protocols to decrease the risk of infection.

Factors like social distancing, league-wide self-isolation mandates and upped hygiene measures, used in tandem with health monitoring devices have become key in keeping infections down.

“Protecting the health of players, as well as team and league staff, is paramount. Because players and staff will have the option to access additional personal health monitoring, the use of Oura Rings will further expand the league’s comprehensive safety and testing procedures for the 2020 season,” Christy Hedgpeth, the COO WNBA, said in a statement.

THE LARGER TREND

Oura has recently been popping up all over the place for its health-monitoring capabilities.

Back in 2018, Prince Harry was spotted wearing the ring during his royal tour to Australia and New Zealand.

From there, it has been included in a number of studies. One, from the University of California San Francisco, used the Oura ring to develop an algorithm that can predict the onset of symptoms such as fever, cough and fatigue, which can characterize COVID-19. Another from West Virginia University used the ring to create a “digital PPE” approach that could potentially identify infected frontline healthcare professionals before they become symptomatic.

This year, Oura also had a $28 million Series B funding round.

ON THE RECORD

“The safety of the players, coaches and staff is the highest priority in launching a season,” said Terri Jackson, the executive director of the Women's National Basketball Players Association, in a statement. “We were eager to work with Oura because of its commitment to women’s health. The smart ring’s data and insights will help our players more closely understand their health, and spot any deviations from their personal baseline. And the opportunity to share the Oura Ring with the staff at IMGA is meaningful, and we appreciate Oura and the WNBA for honoring that request."

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to provide our high-performance monitoring technology to such high-performance athletes,” said Joe Kiani, the founder and CEO of Masimo, in a statement. “For more than 30 years, we’ve specialized in innovative breakthrough hospital monitoring solutions, and we are excited to continue our expansion into new markets, bringing hospital-grade health and wellness monitoring solutions to everyday users, elite athletes, and organizations like the NBA.”

 

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