Frequently Asked Questions


Why do you ask me to use my address when I register the OutSmart Flu app?

Since the goal OutSmart Flu is to measure and report flu activity at UW, we want to assure that OutSmart Flu users are members of our campus community.  Second, when we select raffle winners during the year, we want to be sure that the winner is a UW-Madison student. Your NetID allows us to verify that.

What do I do if I forget my password?

If you logout of the OutSmart Flu app and are unable to get back in because you forgot your password, send a blank email to from your account (i.e., your OutSmart Flu login). Your password will be emailed to you within 24 hours.

What if I accidentally enter and submit the wrong symptoms when using OutSmart Flu? Can I correct it?

While you will not be able to correct errors in symptom reporting once they are submitted, we recognize that mistakes happen. Simply resubmit your correct symptoms as soon as you are able. If the two back-to-back reports are done close in time (e.g., within minutes), we will assume that the second submission is the correct one. If they are far apart in time (e.g., within hours), we will assume that your symptoms have changed and you submitted a new report.

Will OutSmart Flu be conducted next year?

We hope so. This is the first year we are trying this. Based on what we learn, we will think about ways we can expand and improve the OutSmart Flu initiative at UW-Madison. We would also like to expand the OutSmart concept to other things important to UW-Madison students. If you have ideas, feel free to contact us.

Does it matter when I join OutSmart Flu?

You can join OutSmart Flu anytime during the academic year. Flu season runs from September to May with peaks in the winter months. We would like students to join as early as possible so we can begin to detect and inform you of the flu epidemic on campus.

If I join OutSmart Flu, can I later drop out?

Yes. Of course, we hope you don’t. But, at anytime, you can stop participating in OutSmart Flu. You’re welcome to start back up again anytime, too.


What platforms support OutSmart Flu?

Apple iOS and Android only. Currently , we do not support Blackberry and Windows phones.

Do I have to have a Smartphone to use OutSmart Flu?

Technically, you can use any mobile device that runs iOS or is Android-based. So, an iPad, an iPod touch, a Google Nexus, a Samsung Galaxy Note, or any device that can run applications downloaded from Apple iTunes or Google Play can work. However, you will need an Internet connection to use OutSmart Flu.

About Flu

What is the flu?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

How does the flu spread?

The flu spreads most easily among people who live, work, and play near other people, such as in residence halls, classrooms, and crowded social settings.
Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or possibly their nose.

Reporting Symptoms

What if I’m not sick? Can I still use OutSmart Flu?

Definitely. The first question asked in the OutSmart Flu app is how you are feeling. If you are feeling well, just click the appropriate choice.  To detect flu epidemics on campus, knowing that students are feeling well is just as important as knowing that some students are not. Whether you are sick or not, your reports to OutSmart Flu will be valuable.

I have symptoms that are kind of flu-like, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have the flu. Should I report them on OutSmart Flu?

Yes. We will monitor all symptoms that are reported by students. For example, maybe the only symptoms you have one morning are a slight fever and some diarrhea. While that may not be caused by influenza, it could be something else that is infectious. If many students are reporting the same symptoms around the same time, it might be part of an outbreak.  While our main goal this year is to OutSmart Flu, we are very keen in learning how to OutSmart other bugs as well.

If my symptoms worsen after I report them via OutSmart Flu, what do I do?

First, and this is really important, if you ever experience a medical emergency, you should call 9-1-1. If you live in university residence halls, you may also want to contact your house fellow or peer-learning partner, who is available 24 hours a day. Second, and this is also really important, if you ever have symptoms that make you think you should see a doctor, you should go see the doctor. You should contact your healthcare provider or University Health Services at 608-265-5600. If it’s after hours, you can call the After-Hours Nurse Advice Line, use the same number (608-265-5600) and select option 1. So, to answer the question, if your symptoms change, get worse or even better, and you are able to report them again on OutSmart Flu, please do so as it will be helpful for us to know.


What are my real chances of winning a raffle?

We are aiming for thousands of students to join OutSmart Flu. Let’s say five thousand for convenience, so you can get an idea of your odds of winning a raffle (1 in 5000). But, everyone’s chance is different. We have a point system. You get points for participating in the study, using the app, and referring friends to join. If you are in the top half of points, your chance of winning is basically doubled (1 in 2500). If you are in the top quarter of points earned, your chance would be around 1 in 1250. While the person with the highest number of points has the best chance of winning a raffle, there is no guarantee that she or he will win. Everyone has a chance.

Can I win a raffle twice?

Technically, yes. But, we reset your points earned between raffles, so anyone has a chance to get ahead.


Are you affiliated with the University Health Services (UHS) in any way? If so, what is their role?

We are conducting the study independently of UHS. However, UHS is aware of our study and they are advising us about student health and flu on campus. They endorse our OutSmart Flu initiative, so they are helping us get the word out about the study. However, none of your individual information and symptoms which you report via the OutSmart Flu app will ever be shared with UHS.

Why did you decide to use Survey Analytics to create OutSmart Flu?

After screening several companies, we decided to work with Survey Analytics and use their platform to power OutSmart Flu. We were satisfied with their product and support as well as their security and privacy policies. We also sought approval from the UW-Madison Health Sciences Institutional Review Board (IRB), who reviewed Survey Analytics’ privacy policy, before we moved forward with creating the OutSmart Flu app.

Who is funding OutSmart Flu?

For this first year, we received some support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Some support also comes from the Department of Population of Health Sciences.

If I have questions during the school year, who can I contact?

If your question is about OutSmart Flu, please write us at If your questions are health related, you should contact your healthcare provider or University Health Services at 608-265-5600.

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