New tool tracks COVID-19 geographical risk to pinpoint when employees can return to work

New tool tracks COVID-19 geographical risk to pinpoint when employees can return to work

By Evelina Nedlund | Employee Benefit News

As new COVID-19 hotspots continue to pop up across the country, employers may be hesitant or unsure of how to proceed with potential reopening plans.

Health Advocate, a provider of health advocacy, navigation, well-being and integrated benefits programs, has launched a return-to-work solution called Return Navigator to help employers understand the critical components of how and when to return.

“For organizations planning the transition back to the workplace, safety and health are top priorities. However, it is challenging to determine the right timing and approach to have employees return,” says Arthur Leibowitz, chief medical officer and founder at Health Advocate. “By combining these valuable tools, employers can make more informed decisions about developing and implementing their return-to-work strategy.”

The solution integrates three components for organizations transitioning to this next phase — a COVID-19 dashboard, a mobile app and a navigator. The dashboard is a forecasting tool which provides employers with visualizations of the impact of COVID-19 at the national and local level. The real-time insights help employers understand emerging trends in any workplace location so they can more effectively plan and evaluate their return-to-work strategy.

“The dashboard is an example of being able to do data analytics on a broad scale,” Leibowitz says. “This is a way for an employer to easily judge, on a day-by-day basis, the level of coronavirus concern within their workforce, and make informed decisions about what specifically applies to their workforce in the location that they’re in.”

Employees can quickly and easily determine if they are able to return to the workplace by using the mobile app, which is built on CDC guidelines and screens employees by tracking their body temperature and antibody testing. If employees are not cleared to return to work based on the screening, they are advised to self-quarantine or seek medical care. Health Advocate will conduct follow-up outreach as part of the integrated Return Navigator solution.

To mitigate any fears workers may have about contracting the virus, the Return Navigator gives employees access to trained clinical and benefit experts who can help them with coronavirus-related questions and concerns.

The navigator also shows the latest data on COVID-19 statistics from John Hopkins’ own tracking dashboard. Combining the public domain information with information from its own members allows Health Advocate to compare levels of concern with geographical locations. “The important thing is to look at where [companies] have people and marry that up against the concerns the people in those locations express to us, and how that matches up with what’s really going on in terms of the prevalence of the virus in those locations,” Leibowitz says. “That gives [employers] awareness of a match or mismatch of concern versus prevalence.”

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