ReturnSafe’s Command Center helps HR leaders to quickly visualize risk, to cost-effectively prevent and manage outbreaks and to reduce healthcare costs
AUSTIN, TEXAS — April 6, 2021 — ReturnSafe, the holistic software solution for infectious disease management (IDM) helping businesses reopen and stay open, today announced the launch of its Command Center. This integrated, comprehensive digital platform equips employers with the data and tools they need to prevent and manage infectious disease outbreaks in the workplace while keeping their employees safe, healthy, and confident in returning to physical spaces. Features such as vaccine management, symptom screening, testing data, contact tracing data, and isolation and quarantine case management give employers a 360-degree view of risk across their workforces and physical locations. These tools also enable them to easily comply with new COVID-19 guidelines and regulations regarding safe reopening of the workplace.
“The current reality is that experts predict COVID-19 will reach endemic status, just like the seasonal flu. It’s urgent that we create long-term solutions to address the future of infectious disease management in the workplace. Our economy and collective mental health depend on it,” said Tarun Nimmagadda, CEO and Co-Founder of ReturnSafe. “Existing methods to manage employee safety were either manual or COVID-washed band-aids of existing solutions. Employers are realizing that they will need more scalable solutions to navigate the next phases of the virus, and our COVID-19 Command Center is the only solution 100 percent guided by people living through the experience.”
Implementing Command Center will enable employers to develop data-driven return-to-work strategies for an inevitably, mixed-immunity population. The new platform is designed to help employers efficiently manage COVID-19 case workflows and reduce the logistical burden of manual processes, which often lead to missed information and increased risk.
“We’ve been using ReturnSafe for almost eight months. It has been a core element of our layered strategy to keep our faculty, staff, and students safe, and most recently, to track our university community’s progress toward our vaccination goals,” said John Montgomery, Chief Information Technology Officer at Madonna University. “We have tightly coordinated with the ReturnSafe team each step of the way. Command Center is directly based on feedback from our university and others managing this pandemic. Its intuitive and trustworthy digital platform will help eliminate the need to manually manage contact tracing data with a spreadsheet. I highly recommend the ReturnSafe technology and team to any workplace or organization attempting to navigate this tricky landscape.”
Businesses using ReturnSafe’s Command Center have access to:
Case Management: All data entries and information is compiled in one dashboard, displaying employees with potential, active, or cleared cases of COVID-19. Administrators have access to all the information needed to efficiently manage outbreaks, ensuring teams are following prescribed safety protocols.
Test Management: Employers’ external testing providers can now directly upload employee test results into the Command Center Dashboard. Administrators can utilize this information to take immediate action when there is a positive test, and quickly update employees’ building access abilities.
Vaccine Management: As employers navigate mixed-immunity workforces, this tool provides a report on important employee vaccination information, including vaccine provider, date, location and eventual booster status. This feature also includes employee sentiment surveys, where administrators can gauge attitudes toward taking the vaccination among their workforce, providing meaningful insights for creating programs to address employee concerns.
“By implementing Command Center, HR leaders will be able to achieve dual business outcomes by avoiding losses due to closure and to reduce overall healthcare costs for their employee population. Employee confidence and morale is also significantly improved,” said Jikku Venkat, Chief Technology Officer, Vice President of Product, and Co-Founder of ReturnSafe. “After facing more than a year of unimaginable loss, the last thing workers should be concerned about is returning to an unsafe environment in order to keep food on the table.”
ReturnSafe is on a mission to prevent and reduce the spread of infectious diseases at workplaces and schools. In just six short months, ReturnSafe has amassed more than 60 customers – including Sesame Workshop, San Antonio Spurs, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and several universities and schools – and protected the lives of more than 20,000 employees and stakeholders.
About ReturnSafe ReturnSafe is a holistic software solution for infectious disease management (IDM) that is helping businesses, universities, healthcare facilities, sports teams and major venues businesses reopen and stay open. Its end-to-end platform provides daily health screening, exposure notification, and contact tracing and case management for COVID-19 and other contagious diseases. ReturnSafe is based in Austin, TX and backed byFifty Years, Necessary Ventures and Active Capital. To help keep everyone in your organization safe with human-driven, technology-supported solutions, visit www.returnsafe.com.
Check out our blog posts below to learn about our customers’ COVID-19 journeys and to get the latest health and safety updates. Scroll down to watch our latest webinar on best practices for reopening sports and entertainment venues and preview our new product features.
Vaccination Day at Redstone Highlands: Tips to Encourage Adoption
Redstone was able to successfully double their vaccine adoption rate. Check out our blog to find out how you can overcome vaccine hesitancy. Read more
What Employers Need to Know About the New COVID-19 Variants
What should employers know about the new COVID-19 variants? Read our blog to learn more about the variants and how they can impact your workplace operations. Read more
Watch Now: NCS4 Webinar
Sports and Entertainment venues want to deliver a safe and enjoyable experience for fans. Watch the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) webinar featuring our team and ParkHub to find out how organizations like the Spurs are utilizing technology to confidently reopen. Watch Now
Are you looking for screening, contact tracing, testing, case management, and vaccine management tools for your organization? Book a demo to learn more about our solution!
What should employers know about the new variants of COVID-19? How should management teams prepare for an increased number of cases?
News and Updates on the COVID-19 Variants
There are 3 new, highly transmissible variants: B.1.1.7 (UK), B1.351 or 501Y.V2 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil)
There is concern the COVID-19 variant mutations will have slightly weakened protection from the vaccines
We are not sure how effective certain viral tests are at identifying the variants
What businesses should know about the arrival of the new variants
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) website provides information and updates related to the COVID-19 variants.
What is a variant?
Viruses are constantly mutating and, over time, they can become variants. Some emerging variants disappear and others persist.
What do we know about the new variants?
Currently three variants of the virus have been identified in the U.S. which spread more easily and faster than previous variants.
UK Variant: What you need to know
One of the first variants to arrive in the US was the UK variant identified last fall. This variant is also referred to as B.1.1.7. According to CDC reports, this is expected to become the dominant variant in March.
Recent studies in the UK report that this variant may be more fatal than others. Further research is needed to confirm this. The variant was first detected in a US case last December.
South Africa Variant: What you need to know
The South African variant is known as B1.351 or 501Y.V2 and was first identified last October. This variant was first detected in a US case in late January.
Brazil Variant: What you need to know
The Brazil variant, also known as P.1, was identified in Brazilian travelers at an airport in Japan in January. Additional mutations in this variant may impact it being identifiable by antibodies. The mutations present a danger of reinfection and potential diminished vaccine efficacy if the variant is able evade our immune system. This variant was first detected in a US case in late January.
What we don’t know about the variants
Will the new variants impact the efficacy of the vaccine?
According to nature, scientists are still debating whether the new variants will impact the effectiveness of the current COVID-19 vaccines. There are vaccine developers that plan to update their shots to target the variants.
According to CNBC, the FDA may eliminate the lengthy clinical trial requirement for COVID-19 vaccines modified to work against the variants. Pfizer and Moderna are already working on modifying their vaccines given the variants and the current mutation rate. HR managers should monitor the variants that enter their workplace. They should have a system to keep track who has been vaccinated with the current vaccine and who receives the variant modified vaccines.
Further research is needed to identify how effectively the current vaccines work against the UK, Brazil, and South Africa variants.
Do the new variants impact the accuracy of COVID-19 tests?
The FDA has noted that the new COVID-19 variants may cause molecular tests to generate false negatives. Further studies are needed to identify the impact each new variant may have on the accuracy of COVID-19 tests.
Proactive health safety measures can help you prevent outbreaks
Health screening for work should be a requirement, if not already
Health screenings for work should be a requirement to ensure employee safety. Businesses will need to implement multiple health safety measures to manage the new variants and increased COVID-19 cases. Even organizations without state, local, or public health screening guidelines should make screening employees a requirement to prevent outbreaks,
Logging close contacts in the workplace is essential before employees report positive for a rapid response
California’s OSHA requires employers send exposure notifications to employees, contractors, and other employers within 24 hours. These notifications are to inform them that they were exposed to someone infected COVID-19. All business owners should send notifications to potentially exposed employees as soon as possible to prevent outbreaks.
Employers should have access to a platform where they can easily see which employees were exposed to the virus. Additionally, employees should be able to easily report their close contacts to create a safe and healthy workplace.
Encouraging and tracking vaccine adoption can help you achieve herd immunity
Despite what we don’t know about how vaccine efficacy is impacted by variants, it is still best to get vaccinated. The current vaccines will still have the benefit of strengthening your immune system overall and potentially lessen the impact of a COVID-19 variant infection. As Dr. Fauci notes, the vaccines provide protection from the virus and prevent emergence of new variants. Widespread vaccination is crucial to prevent new strains and mutations.
Time to review your safety protocols and ensure they will meet this new challenge
In the next few months, you will see a dramatic rise in cases due to the variants. Employers should feel confident that their pandemic safety program can handle it. Companies that do not prepare may face losses in productivity.
If your current process is manual, you will need more employees to manage the information. As the variants spread and new cases arise, you will need to hire more employees. Are you currently using paper-based screening surveys and manual contact tracers? Automating these processes can be more cost-effective and enables management to take action in real time to prevent outbreaks.
If your current solution is digital, does it meet all your needs? Employers should evaluate their current solution to ensure it meets all their pandemic safety requirements. Does their screening solution encourage and track compliance? Are administrators easily able to track close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases?
Employers, especially those for larger organizations should consider risk mitigation strategies. A broad based testing program allows organizations to identify asymptomatic cases and infection hotspots. Finally, employers should have a system in place to keep track of vaccines and workplace immunity levels.
The Coronavirus pandemic has had a serious impact on our country’s most vulnerable, with long-term carecommunities at the top of the list. The elderly are most at-risk for experiencing severe and life-threatening symptoms of COVID-19. Operating and managing Independent Living, Personal Care, and Skilled Nursing across three campuses, Redstone Highlands Communities took immediate action to protect the vulnerable populations that they serve.Bypartnering with ReturnSafe, Redstone has better been able to keep residents and staff healthy and safe and reduced community spread.
Proactive Pandemic Safety Is Top Priority for Redstone
Redstone first partnered with ReturnSafe to transition from a manual daily health screening process to a digital solution. Their previous system relied heavily on a front-office employee to help with written attestation and temperature checks, causing long lines at shift change. This process costs $14,000 per month to staff across 3 facilities. Additionally, when outbreaks occurred, they were also responsible for identifying and contacting exposed individuals, a slow and manual process. With staff shortages across the communities, keeping employees healthy to care for residents was essential, and speed and efficiency critical.
Since July, employees report their COVID-19 symptoms, exposure, and contacts in ReturnSafe’sdaily health screening app. Administrators can monitor and respond to screening survey results through a centralized dashboard. The solution’s customizability makes it easy to adhere to the constantly evolving guidelines and requirements set forth by local and state public health agencies. Redstone estimates that they are saving $154,500 per year by using ReturnSafe for their screening process.
Redstone also began on-site testing at all of their communities, which, combined with daily health screening, allows them to quickly identify and respond to potential outbreaks. By implementing these measures, Redstone has successfully kept their infection rate well below their county’s overall average.
Even before the COVID-19 vaccines were approved, Redstone administrators were surveying staff and residents on their willingness to be vaccinated. Early data showed that a majority of residents hoped to be vaccinated as soon as possible, but less than half (40 percent) of employees were willing to get vaccinated when a vaccine became available to them. Leaders at Redstone knew that increasing their population’s willingness to get vaccinated would be critical in achieving herd immunity. An informational brochure was developed that explained the vaccines in understandable and relatable language. Frequently asked questions were highlighted on “stall notes” hung in employee bathroom stalls. Respected leaders were readily available to answer questions and discuss vaccine decisions. Colorful vaccine hero buttons were distributed to those who were planning to be vaccinated and an upbeat video was produced, sharing testimony from all levels of employees who were ready to be vaccinated.
On Monday, January 11, Redstone Highlands Communities held their first “Vaccine Day”. It was a very exciting day where residents and staff received the COVID-19 vaccine. Despite the seriousness of the pandemic, there was a festive atmosphere as employees and residents embraced the opportunity to be vaccinated.
Three Keys to Overcoming Workplace Vaccine Hesitancy
As vaccines are rolled out across the country, reducing workplace vaccine hesitancy is top of mind for today’s HR executives. Individuals who are hesitant about taking the vaccine may be concerned about vaccine safety and health risks. Redstone originally expected 40% of their residents and staff would get vaccinated. However, as the first round of vaccines concluded they were able to increase participation to over 80% of employees and 99% of residents! How were they able to encourage adoption? Three core components were crucial to their success.
Be a Trusted Source of Information
Through the survey process, Redstone was able to identify the most common concerns about the vaccine shared among employees. Redstone established itself as a dependable source of vaccine information amongst staff and residents. Through the production of print materials, handouts, posters, letters, social media, and emails – myths about the vaccine were addressed and fact-based knowledge was provided.
Establish a Safe and Inclusive Culture
Employees should feel safe and supported by their peers and management. They need to feel that their employers are taking adequate measures to keep them safe. In the case of Redstone’s vaccine initiative, morale played a major part in easing resident and staff concerns. At this time, Redstone has not made the vaccine mandatory. Redstone believes that creating an environment of safety and trust went further in increasing participation, without negatively impacting employee morale. Trusted Redstone leaders also fielded dozens of phone calls and in-person visits with employees to openly discuss vaccine concerns, and to be supportive partners in vaccine decisions.
Build Trust By Being Proactive
By establishing a simple and accessible screening and testing process, Redstone demonstrated that the health of their staff and residents was the top priority. These actions built trust between them and their community. Their consistent communication and dedication to informing their community have built upon that rapport. Employees and residents trusted Redstone and were willing to get vaccinated to keep their community safe. In addition, employee benefits and incentives were extended to those who chose to be vaccinated. For example, in the unlikely case that an employee tests positive for COVID-19 after vaccination, that employee will be provided with paid time off to complete the quarantine or to recover. Those who chose not to be vaccinated, elect to forego this benefit.
What should employers do to prepare for the vaccine?
There are manyresources available to help guide you and your team as you establish a COVID-19 vaccine management plan. The best defense against workplace vaccine hesitancy is information to assure employees that they are making an informed decision. Like Redstone, employers should begin enacting measures now to encourage employee vaccine adoption.The CDC provides aVaccine Communications Toolkit for Essential Workers to help educate employees about COVID-19 vaccines. The toolkit informs employees of vaccination benefits, and addresses common questions and concerns.ReturnSafe provides vaccination management capabilities to help organizations on the path to herd immunity. This service includes surveying employee vaccination sentiment and tracking vaccination status across your organization.Book a demo to learn more about ReturnSafe’s vaccine management and health screening services.
Why is employee screening needed for a successful return to work program?
PPE, disinfecting, and social distancing all contribute to a healthier workplace. This blog focuses on adding employee screening.
Employers should follow the “swiss cheese” model where each layer of protection adds more safety. No one solution can fill all the holes where businesses face risk. Adding multiple protection tools or “swiss cheese slices” covers these holes. Following this model allows you to create a strong pandemic defense for your return to work program (1).
Employee health screenings ensure only employees who meet your return to work criteria are at the workplace. Additional layers also include contact tracing, surveillance testing, and vaccine tracking. Contact tracing stops forward transmission and surveillance testing catches asymptomatic silent spread. Finally, vaccine tracking allows you to know when you’ve reached herd immunity. A comprehensive workplace safety solution should integrate all of these tools.
Ask employees to notify them if they are in contact with a sick household member
Currently at least 33 states in the U.S. have made screening employees prior to coming to a physical workspace a requirement. Some states require employee screening prior to each shift. Other states require screening before arriving at work. JD Supra has compiled a list of all the states that have mandatory screening requirements (3).
Key components of a daily health screening
A return to work program should provide the following services as part of the their daily employee screenings to ensure safety. This screening solution should also generate “come to work” or “stay home” recommendations based on the answers to the screening questions.
Health Safety Recommendations
Employers should have a symptom checker app with surveys to see if employees are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The symptom checker app should ensure no employees with signs of COVID-19 are reporting to the physical work location.
As per the CDC, potential symptoms of COVID-19 include:
Fever greater than 100.4 degrees
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Fatigue, muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Employers should ask if users have been tested and their results. The CDC recommends testing of individuals with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and their close contacts (2). Establishing a routine testing program also helps companies capture people who are asymptomatic but carry COVID-19 and are silent spreaders. A widespread testing program can help employees stay ahead of COVID-19 cases and prevent transmission.
Testing results should be accessible from a centralized dashboard. With this information, employers can immediately view positive cases and start contact tracing to minimize further COVID-19 transmission.
Employees should log their exposure to those infected with COVID-19 and/or sick with a potential COVID-19 infection. Employers should keep track of this information and send the appropriate advisories. For example, they should send quarantine advisories if employees have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19. Anyone who has been exposed should not enter the workplace until they have properly quarantined per the CDC guidelines.
In some areas, it is required for employees traveling from certain states to quarantine to ensure they are COVID-free (4). For this reason, employers should ask about recent travel in their health screening. Specifically, they should ask about travel outside of the country or to states on the mandatory quarantine list (4). If yes, they should not enter the workplace until they have met the quarantine exit criteria.
Many companies are waiting for the COVID-19 vaccines to become available to the general public. As they arrive, however, universal vaccine adoption is not guaranteed. Employers should have a vaccine tracking tool to help them manage a mixed immunity environment.
Companies should consider asking about employees vaccination status and type and offering incentives for adopters.
Health Safety Recommendations
It is important to understand how your screening solution generates safety recommendations. The survey and recommendations should help employers meet the screening requirements for their safe return to work program. The screener should ensure that only healthy employees are reporting to work.
Employers should develop a list of scenarios they should be prepared for according to local laws and guidelines. They should know what the response will be for these scenarios individually or in combination. Alongside this they should develop the appropriate recommendations for these cases as in the example below.
Scenario 1: An employees with no signs or symptoms of COVID-19 Recommendation: Cleared to come to work.
Scenario 2: An employees with a fever above 100.4 and/or a headache and sore throat Recommendation: Stay home, seek medical attention, and get tested for COVID-19
Scenario 3: Employees that have traveled to states on the mandatory quarantine Recommendation: Quarantine and/or get tested for COVID-19
Employee screenings play a vital role in return to work programs, but they are only one protection tool. Companies still need to add more “swiss cheese layers” to keep employees safe and prevent outbreaks.
Book a demo to test out our COVID-19 symptom checker application and vaccine tracking tools!
As you return to physical workspaces, are you confident in your employee safety program? Does it need to evolve as the new strains and vaccines arrive? Can you make vaccines a requirement? Our resources can help you stay ahead of COVID-19 in 2021
Vaccine Program Management Resources for Employers
We curated resources to help you create a COVID-19 vaccine program. Read more
Evaluation Guide for Contact Tracing in the Workplace
Having the right tools to quickly identify positive COVID-19 cases and close contacts reduces transmission and prevents shutdowns. Find out which contact tracing solution is best fit for your organization. Read more
Easily Comply with Cal/OSHA AB 685
Effective January 1, per AB-685, Cal/OSHA can issue orders for the closure of workplaces based on the threat of COVID-19. Keep your doors open with tools to make compliance easy. Read more
Are you looking for screening, contact tracing, testing, and vaccine management tools for your organization? Book a demo with someone on our team to try our tools!