The objective of this piece is to help employers and administrators find a solution that’s right for their organization. We’ve done the research to help you evaluate the leading contact tracing devices.
Why do you need contact tracing software?
Businesses are faced with an unprecedented level of responsibility when it comes to employee safety and well-being due to COVID-19. Contact tracing is the process of identifying, monitoring, and supporting individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Contact tracing is often done manually, but is most effective when partnered with technology. Technology ensures the highest level of accuracy and fastest response to a positive test result.
Having the right tools to quickly identify close contacts stops forward transmission and prevents shutdowns. Minimizing tracing and testing delays are imperative for practical contact tracing in the workplace. When you start contact tracing the day that a positive test result is identified you can decrease forward transmission by 80%.
In addition to helping employers prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, digital contract tracing makes it easy to meet state guidelines and requirements. Certain states recommend or require that organizations such as businesses and schools keep record of close contacts to aid public health departments with their contact tracing efforts.
How does contact tracing help stop the spread of COVID-19?
Once an administrator identifies that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, their case needs to be managed. Case Management is utilizing contact tracing data to inform Level 1 and 2 contacts of potential exposure and providing quarantine instructions. Level 1 contacts are people that have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Level 2 contacts are people who have been in close contact with level 1 contacts. Close contact is defined as exposure to a positive COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or longer in a 48 hour time period during their infectious period.
The Center for Disease Control recommends exposed employees monitor their symptoms until 14 days after the exposure took place. If a potentially infected individual develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 they should be advised to isolate and stay home.
How does contact tracing work?
The first step to prevent transmission is identifying who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. A successful workplace contact tracing solution should allow administrators to:
Monitor employees health status and take action when needed
See who has been tested for COVID-19 and their results
Contact tracing is only effective if you are logging each interaction that could be a potential exposure event. There are many different types of digital contact tracing, from manual to automated with hardware wearables. All these contact tracing tools should be easily managed via the administrators digital platform.
Bluetooth peer to peer, bluetooth triangulation, and bluetooth phone tracking are automated contact tracing methods. They are constantly tracking who is coming into contact with whom throughout the day. Automated contact tracing methods lessens the burden to maintain a record of these interactions. However, there is also the option for employees to manually log contacts via the digital logbook app in our app.
By implementing a digital process, the need for staff to manage the contact tracing process is reduced, while increasing accuracy.
Compare the Contact Tracing Methods
Each method has its strengths, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts when integrated effectively.
All four contact tracing tools ensure your team is safe and healthy. A holistic approach empowers your team to be confident that they are protected when they come to work.
Automated Contact Tracing
Bluetooth peer to peer, bluetooth triangulation, and bluetooth phone tracking all automated contact tracing tools. These tools track who employees are coming into contact with while on premises throughout the day. These processes are secure, private, and automated. Compliance with contact tracing is extremely high with our customers because we integrate hardware technology with an easy to use app.
To enable automatic contact tracing in the workplace, your solution should integrate best of breed bluetooth wearables. These operate via either peer to peer or bluetooth triangulation tracking. Our wearables are available as badges, cards, or lanyards.
Bluetooth Hardware Types and Features
Manual Contact Logging
Finally, our fourth method of contact tracing is the digital log book in the employee facing app. In a log book employees can mark who they met with and for how long each day. These manually logged interactions will be pulled into the contact tracing sequence if a positive case is found in your workplace.
Which contact tracing method should I use?
The method to use depends on: the use case, the type of workplace, accuracy, reliability, and cost.
Some of the use cases to consider are:
Do my employees have personal smartphones or employer-supplied smartphones? With personal smartphones, the employee will likely be unwilling to use the smartphone app based approach for contact tracing.
Do I need a solution for both employees and contractors? Bluetooth hardware is preferred for contractors as users can be temporarily assigned a tag that is re-assigned later.
Type of Workplace
Some workplaces are very large but have a very few entrance and exit points. In these workplaces peer-to-peer Bluetooth method is preferred over Bluetooth triangulation.
Similarly if the workplace is very large, it will require a lot of Bluetooth gateways making it cost prohibitive.
Workplaces that have special validation requirements (certain factories, clean rooms, labs) require hardware. Any hardware that has to be installed in the area has to undergo a lengthy, expensive validation process. These workplaces are not a good fit for Bluetooth triangulation.
In terms of accuracy and reliability, the hardware approaches are better than a smartphone app based tracing. However the app-based tracing does not require installation and management of any new hardware. The log book approach can be very reliable if users adopt and use it consistently and require no new hardware
The log book and smartphone app approaches are cheaper than the Bluetooth hardware. There are other more expensive hardware approaches like Ultra WideBand (UWB) that are more reliable and accurate than Bluetooth.
Our Sales and Customer Success team can help you choose the best solution for your situation based on the above factors.
Interested in learning more about our contact tracing software? Book a demo to try our screening, contact tracing, and vaccine management tools!
These businesses have published their extensive coronavirus health & safety protocols
With the world reopening and some semblance of ‘normalcy’ starting to return, companies of all shapes and sizes are beginning to come up with what their ‘return to work’ plan will be. These plans need to be instituted to not only ensure that their facilities, factories and store fronts meet new local, regional and national health and safety standards, but they also need to calm fears amongst their workforce, customer base, vendors and visitors in order to get things up and running again. We rounded up three leaders in the fields of: automotive, hospitality and food processing who have published detailed plans for their new health and safety protocols in the coronavirus world.
The Automotive Coronavirus Return to Work Playbook
Tesla released something called their “Return to Work Playbook” where they outline everything from facilities improvements, employee training, screening, social distancing, and new overall processes for daily life at their California plants. The playbook begins by outlining a set of “readiness checks” for all facilities, including: verifying all indoor and outdoor areas that people may come into contact with have been cleaned and sanitized, checking that air filters are in proper working order, assuring that social distancing is made possible by reduced occupancy across tight areas and enclosed spaces, and generally guaranteeing that all onsite precautions have been made. Next, the playbook goes on to detail about how the workforce will be trained on the new processes in place to best maintain a healthy and safe work environment, including another readiness checklist. Finally, the document moves onto how the team will control access to the campus in order to ensure the maintenance of all other protocols, including: temperature screening, employee self-checks, and a list of processes to go through if someone does test positive for COVID-19.
How Hotels Will Return to Welcoming Guests
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts recently announced a partnership with Johns Hopkins Medicine International called, Lead With Care. This partnership will provide the guidelines for their reopening across the international brand. Johns Hopkins experts will be validating new Four Seasons health and safety protocols and will provide ongoing guidance as they are implemented. “Along with already-commonplace measures such as more sanitizers, masks and heightened cleaning and hygiene, our collaboration with Johns Hopkins equips our property teams with access to leading international experts and real-time COVID-19 information, enhancing our tools and training to deliver an experience grounded in safety and trust,” says Christian Clerc, President, Global Operations, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. The program has two phases: “Review & Validation” and “Ongoing Guidance.” First, they are completing a thorough review of all existing practices at each property and will implement new practices as necessary. Some of these new practices include: installing a “Hygiene Officer” at each hotel, increasing the frequency with which areas are disinfected, and equipping each guest room with a “Lead With Care Kit”, which offers face masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Moreover, according to their initial press release regarding the program, “the ongoing collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine International team [will include] direct access to curated critical updates, relevant COVID-19 research outcomes, and expert advice to ensure real-time adjustments to operating procedures.”
Essential Businesses Remain Proactive While Returning to Work
Many of the Cargill facilities were deemed essential due to being food processing and industrial platns so their employees and partners haven’t missed a beat since the beginning of the pandemic. And now as we all move into this new phase of the crisis, they have also been working on a set of standards that will be in place going forward to best protect their workforce, customers and partners from airborne diseases. According to a recent statement on the safety of their North American meat processing facilities, “In partnership with the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, OSHA and other national and local health officials, we are proactively putting into place the latest available safety protocols appropriate for the contexts in which we operate.” Some of the new measures they are taking include: implementing a screening survey for anyone entering a plant, temperature screening each day, limiting all unnecessary visitors, increasing the already high level of daily sanitation, installing protective barriers on the production floor and providing appropriate PPE for employees. Beyond the in-plant process updates, they have also put together a set of community-focused guidelines, such as: providing buses that are retrofitted with protective barriers between seats to alleviate the need for carpooling in a safe, sanitary way and a long term focus on building awareness of social distancing best practices inside and outside of work for everyone in their ecosystem.
Is your business currently working on a ‘return to work’ plan or are you looking for a contact tracing app? If so, we can help you automate the implementation process and advise on how to create a best in class holistic solution so you can hit the ground running in a safe and secure way going forward. We deliver automation, accountability and compliance for businesses reopening after the coronavirus shutdowns. Book a demo with us to find out how we do that! Learn how it works.
When looking for a reopening solution for your organization, you should evaluate how it will meet CDC guidelines for returning to work. The key health and safety criterion for such businesses operating in-person are outlined in the CDC’s ‘Restart Readiness Checklist’. Let’s see how our solution can help you tick those boxes.
CDC Guidelines For Returning To Work
Monitor federal, state, and local public health communications about COVID-19
In order to stay ahead of COVID-19, you need access to up to date federal, state, and local COVID-19 information and guidelines. Our team consistently monitors the CDC’s guidance and updates the screener to optimize employee safety. If you choose a customer screener, you can make regular changes to your screener based on state and local public health communications.
Reinforce how employees can protect themselves and others from COVID-19 by communicating:
If you have symptoms, notify your supervisor and stay home.
If you are sick, follow CDC recommended steps, and do not return to work until you meet criteria to discontinue home isolation.
If you are well, but have someone in your household who has COVID-19, notify your supervisor and follow CDC recommended precautions.
An effective solution educates and empowers employees to monitor and protect themselves. Our daily screening app generates customized employee recommendations daily. Users receive reminders to record symptoms of COVID-19 in a quick and easy-to-use daily screening survey. The screening survey should include questions about employee symptoms, travel, and potential exposure to COVID-19. After completing the screening process the app generates a recommendation to come to work or stay home based on the policies your organization has in place. Employers can fine-tune sick employees’ recommendations to meet their organization’s preferences and align with CDC guidelines for returning to work in their area.
Plan for conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g. symptom and/or health screenings) before employees enter the facility.
The CDC guidelines for returning to work recommend that organizations implement a daily screening protocol for employees to follow before they enter the workplace. In-person screenings invite workplace exposure to symptomatic employees. Our digital screening solution eliminates this risk by giving people the ability to screen before they leave their house via our mobile app.
Per the CDC guidance for Business and Employers, our digital health screening questionnaire asks about employees COVID-19 symptoms and exposure.
Conduct a hazard assessment of the workplace.
Identify potential hazards that might expose workers to COVID-19
We can provide surveillance testing that employers can manage through the test data management feature of our solution. Surveillance testing, allows employees to identify COVID-19 infection hotspots and asymptomatic cases at the workplace.
Plan for what to do if an employee is sick at work.
Immediately separate employees who appear to have symptoms from others in the workplace.
Employees are able to report symptoms of COVID-19 through our daily health screening app. In the Dashboard, administrators will be able to see who has checked-in and reported symptoms of COVID-19. With our default screener, they can recommend that these employees ‘Stay Home’ or work ‘Work from Home’. With a custom screener, employers can also choose to create a specific recommendation to separate employees at the workplace.
Develop an action plan for suspected/confirmed cases
Determine which employees may have been exposed to the virus and may need to take additional precautions:
Inform employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, but maintain confidentiality.
In order to effectively combat the pandemic you must have a plan in place to respond to sick employees and/or confirmed COVID-19 cases. This plan must ensure infected employees isolate and potentially exposed employees are contacted. Our Command Center Portal allows you to immediately alert exposed employees while maintaining the infected employee’s confidentiality. Employers can utilize our Case Management feature to keep track of potential, active, and cleared cases and ensure employees receive the appropriate follow-up.
Interested in learning more? Book a demo and we can help you create a plan that complies with CDC guidelines for returning to work. See how it works.
OSHA and the CDC have published significant guidance on the importance of preventing and reducing COVID-19 transmission among employees. In order to re-open successfully, appropriate measures must be taken by businesses to limit the chance of a COVID-19 outbreak at their facility. Having a contact tracing application in use amongst your workforce is a great place to start when setting up a return to work plan. A contact tracing application has the power to automatically notify management who an infected person has come into contact with, thereby stopping COVID-19 transmission in its tracks if measures are taken immediately after someone tests positive.
What is a Contact Tracing Application?
A contact tracing application creates a system for collecting information on who is coming into contact with whom throughout the workday. Via Bluetooth tracking, a contact tracing application records when employees spend significant amounts of time in the presence of their coworkers. And if someone tests positive, the app will advise those who came into contact with the infected person to isolate and get tested.
Without a contact tracing solution preparing you for the scenario when someone tests positive, the safety of your employees is in jeopardy. Moreover, without a plan to mitigate a potential outbreak via a contact tracing solution, your business is exposed to unnecessary risk.
Why isn’t manual contact tracing enough?
For many businesses, it is not practical to have someone manually tracking employee behavior and monitoring who comes into contact with whom. Our contact tracing application has the ability to let employees know if they are maintaining 6 feet of social distance via an alert throughout the day, taking it yet another step further in preventing transmission. The application stores data on test results as well as daily health status, and daily interactions to track when symptoms began and which colleagues may be at risk of further transmission–all automatically.
Complies with OSHA, CDC, state and local guidelines and regulations
To maintain a positive and productive work environment, your employees need to feel confident that they are safe coming back to work. Contact tracing apps empower employees to monitor and track their own movements and behavior, putting them at ease that they and their coworkers are only working with healthy people.
To find out how you can implement a contact tracing application at your organization book a demo to learn more about ReturnSafe!
BioSecurity is the practice of enabling businesses to prepare, prevent, and rapidly respond to biological threats to keep people safe and maintain business continuity.
As the world moves past the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all thinking about how we will move forward to restart our lives. For businesses, this means putting into place a whole new set of security measures centered around the health and wellbeing of their employees, customers, and partners. BioSecurity is a concept that has been thrust into our vocabulary over the past few months, but even industry leaders are still trying to figure out exactly how to implement it. At ReturnSafe, we offer a comprehensive BioSecurity platform that is ready to tackle returning to work during COVID-19 and preventing the next outbreak on your premises. Read on to discover what a robust BioSecurity platform looks like and why your business needs one.
Just as a few decades ago, cyber security became standard practice for businesses of all sizes, today BioSecurity is a necessary part of the workplace. Preparing for, preventing, and rapidly responding to biological threats are the key layers of a BioSecurity platform that work together to keep people safe and maintain business continuity. While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought these issues to the forefront, this is not the first time the modern world has seen a biological threat, most recently we faced Ebola in 2014, H1N1 (Swine Flu) in 2009, and SARS in 2003. The ease and speed at which people and products travel the world these days increases the chances for future pandemics to occur and spread. However, the silver lining to our current coronavirus pandemic is that the urgency around putting preventative measures in place has been brought to light.
What Does a BioSecurity Platform Look Like?
Agile BioSecurity systems are made up of a BioSecurity Portal, which is essentially an infrastructure layer offering a set of core services. Unique ‘Solution Packs’ sit on top of that layer, each tailored to a particular disease, enabling those core services to handle the nuances of the threat at hand.
Let’s dive into our BioSecurity Portal and COVID-19 Solution Pack.
Our BioSecurity Portal is a dynamic infrastructure layer that incorporates all the core services needed to mitigate, manage and prevent a disease outbreak in the workplace. The key services are broken out into seven compartments: Risk Assessment, Reporting, Alerts, Tracing Tools, Business Continuity, Compliance, and our Regulatory Database.
Our Assessment module provides periodic assessments for employers regarding various infectious diseases in the business’ location. Both a generic assessment for all risk will be made, as well as a version specific to current diseases that are at risk of an outbreak. Our predictive model identifies characteristics or comorbidities that make people more vulnerable to severe complications from a disease to help tailor your policies to your most vulnerable employees.
In addition, the assessment will offer best practices to lower or mitigate the risk to the employees and the workplace. These best practices include policies you can create and manage for your workforce with regards to current workplace recommendations, travel policies, etc.
Our system takes current guidelines from the CDC, WHO, NIH and other organizations to generate reports for Human Resource and Risk departments on the current state of infections during an outbreak so all current information is easily within reach. This allows teams to remain well informed in real time in order to make necessary policy changes quickly.
The next step beyond periodic reports is our alerts function. Based on the findings from our automatically generated reports, HR & risk teams may receive notifications of recommended actions that should be taken depending on the current biosecurity situation in the area—this occurs whether there is a current or impending infectious disease outbreak in your geography. This includes travel alerts for employees on business travel.
Contact Tracing Tools
Once there is a known disease outbreak occurring our tracing tools kick into gear. These tools are a combination of automated and manual contact tracing actions. A simple digital logbook allows your employees to track their physical interactions with others via our mobile app manual and Bluetooth and Indoor-location technologies gather this data in the background to complement the manual notations. Our HR dashboards aggregate all of this tracing data so that management can monitor exposure risks and make recommendations for who can continue to report to the office and who should stay home.
Just as Cyber Security tools implement regular system tests, our platform is able to provide regular drills to manage both system and team preparedness for an infectious disease outbreak. A simulated outbreak scenario will be run through on a regular basis to test the safety measures in place as well as to educate team members on the measures that need to be taken in case of an emergency.
Our platform is HIPAA compliant and can be customized to meet any local, state, federal or industry compliance rules. We also generate all necessary reports to show compliance to these regulatory bodies when needed and track compliance requirements for specific disease outbreaks to keep you informed of the safeguards that you need to implement.
As new disease regulations are put into place, we maintain a knowledge base of up-to-date county, city, state, federal and industry regulations. These guidelines can also be easily referenced from our HR dashboards. These regulations enable you to manage policies in compliance with regulatory requirements.
COVID-19 Solution Pack
As mentioned above, there are solution packs available for all major disease outbreaks. Let’s explore our COVID-19 Solution Pack to see how we are helping organizations deal with the current BioSecurity threat.
Due to the nature of COVID-19, the first part of this Solution Pack is assigning each employee a ‘risk score’. This is their likelihood for being at risk for a severe reaction if they contract coronavirus. Our system has the ability to query for a set of comorbidity factors that are relevant to particular infectious diseases. Our HIPAA compliant platform does this in a way that protects not only privacy, but also mitigates data exposure risk. For example, rather than look at someone’s entire electronic health record, management simply gets a view into their overall ‘risk score’, with the contributing factors hidden from view, as the score is automatically generated.
During the coronavirus pandemic employees are notified to complete a quick mobile survey each day as a quick check to ensure that only healthy employees are coming to work due to the extremely contagious nature of the disease. This occurs through a quick series of prompts and is completed in just a few seconds, making the process painless for the employee and easy to monitor by HR through our management dashboards.
In the case where someone does experience symptoms, and notes that on their daily screening survey, they will be given instructions on where and how to get tested. They can then record their results on the app, which could potentially trigger the need for instant contract tracing to isolate exposed employees to mitigate further spread.
In the event that someone in a location does test positive for COVID-19, both automated and manual contact tracing methods are activated. Bluetooth and indoor-location technologies gather data in the background on a daily basis to find potential employees who may be at risk, and employees are able to manual log meetings and encounters with teammates as well for a well-rounded view of who is coming into contact with whom.