Healthcare Technology Featured Article

May 18, 2020

COVID-19 Health Screening App Can Help Businesses Re-Open Safely

With states implementing various phased plans for re-opening businesses and re-started economies that have struggles mightily for the past two months, company leaders are carefully evaluating their capacity for bringing employees back to their workplaces.  For  some, the logical decision is to continue teleworking strategies that have enabled them to function effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Countless others, though, have not been able to operate well under remote conditions, and millions have simply had to close doors until restrictions are lifted.

But, even as that happens, states have clearly defined protocols businesses must follow in order to re-open, the CDC has published a workplace decision tree to help them evaluate their preparedness level for re-opening.  The tree starts with state and local requirements, then moves on to CDC recommended health and safety protocols and monitoring capabilities.  If businesses are able to answer each branch of the decision tree affirmatively, they can re-open – as long as they are able to sustain all relevant measures.

These kinds of decision trees are important, because as businesses begin to re-open, the potential for rapid spread increases exponentially if only one worker is infected.  Before you know it, everyone who has been in the office with that individual could become sick, putting the business at risk.  The exposure risk increases even more when workers are using public or shared transportation.

One way to help mitigate risk, while still re-opening businesses, is daily health assessments for early risk identification and mitigation.

Auscura, an automated patient messaging solution provider led by seasoned healthcare professionals, has created its SmartContact system to enable ongoing communication between patients and providers to drive effective treatment and follow-up.  The application also be leveraged as a remote return-to-work screening tool that allows employees to submit their current conditions every morning before leaving for the office. 

Employees get an automated message every morning with a link to a short survey to assess their risk levels  (e.g., are you exhibiting any of these symptoms?).  Based on defined standards, businesses can respond to each employee exhibiting symptoms or otherwise showing higher than normal risk levels, such as telling them to work from home.  They can also notify other employees about potential exposure and either have them also work from home or, at least tell them to closely monitor their own symptoms.

Employees can also be required to read and acknowledge corporate health and safety policies on first use, or even on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, to underscore the ongoing need to follow these measures to  reduce risk in the office and at home.

Simple automated tools like SmartContact can save hours of manual work and eliminates bottlenecks at workplaces created by temperature checks as workers enter facilities.  More importantly, they can significantly reduce the risk of outbreaks within companies by identifying risks before employees even leave their homes.

“Daily symptom surveillance is integral to workplace safety,” says Dr. Tom Scaletta, Auscura CEO.  “Checking temperatures at an entrance creates bottlenecks, requires the expense of screeners, and is a clinically-flawed strategy.   We need to know if there are symptoms before someone leaves home, so no infection is passed along during a commute.”

Of course, this requires the honest cooperation of employees, and requires corporate assurances that employees won’t be penalized if they exhibit symptoms and can’t return to the office.  But the fact is promoting a healthy workplace and genuine concern for employee wellness should be enough motivation on both sides to make this an effective tool.

Common wisdom says this coronavirus isn’t going away quickly, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation will likely be a part of business culture for the foreseeable future.  If the kind of rapid spread we have already seen in businesses and communities, regular monitoring is a must-have.

Edited by Erik Linask
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