As schools, healthcare facilities, businesses and other workplaces return to work, they face a looming question: how can they return to work and minimize the spread of COVID-19? While regular testing may seem like the obvious answer, for many, testing is not an option. Testing doesn’t necessarily recognize a newly infected person, so there’s no guarantee that that you’ll be able to confirm a diagnosis before the virus spreads. Then there’s the cost. Many workplaces are turning to employee and client screening, but even that can be a challenge: Who is responsible for the screening? How do you practice social distancing while screening people? Do you have someone at the office take people’s temperatures or do you let people self-report? And how do you store and protect the sensitive health information that comes out of screenings?
The Right Screening Plan for Your Organization
Figuring out how to screen for COVID-19 is not a one size fit all for every organization. Organizations have to figure out who is responsible for screening, how to collect information – whether through on-premise screening or surveys sent to people’s devices at home-and even who should be screened. Depending on your organization, different people may be required to be screened or even to respond to screening questions. Take schools, for example. The CDC recommends that parents or caregivers be responsible in monitoring their children for symptoms, rather than schools directly conducting the screenings themselves. Parents then report any symptoms to the schools so that they can track that critical information.
Be Clear About Your Procedure and Response
When it comes to developing a screening system, consistency is absolutely critical so that no one gets confused. Make sure you have concrete guidelines for screening procedures, what the response will be if someone reports or display symptoms and what to do if someone refuses to be screened. The US Chamber of Commerce provides a list of six questions you should ask employees when screening them and the American Medical Association also provides a helpful list of questions for screening. Any questions you ask should be specifically about COVID-19 – you’re dealing with sensitive health information here, the only information you should be collecting should have to do with assessing the COVID-19 threat.
Make Protecting the Information You Collect During Screening a Priority
With the stigma and worry surround COVID-19, it’s important that people responding to COVID-19 screenings feel confident that the information they’re sharing with you remains confidential and is stored according to compliance requirements. That means the information should be limited only to HR or management with a need to know so that it can’t be leaked or fall into the wrong hands. Any data collected from the screening needs to be stored securely to reduce the possibility of any kind of breach. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, confidentiality and anonymity should be maintained when informing other people who may have come into contact with the person.
We’re excited to introduce our automated mobile screening tool, which sends daily screening surveys to those you designate, while making sure privacy is built into the entire process. Using our tool, you can design a template that meets your organization’s needs and automate it so that it is sent daily to your intended recipients. Any information you receive is stored in a secure repository and is HIPAA compliant. Find out more about how we can support your screening process here.