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MSFT, UNH Launched ProtectWell to Screen Employees for COVID-19

Microsoft and UnitedHealth offer companies a free app ‘ProtectWell’ to screen employees for coronavirus.

ProtectWell provides employers a return-to-workplace backed by CDC guidelines and the latest clinical science. The protocol is supported by the ProtectWell smartphone app that screens for COVID-19 symptoms and clears employees for daily work.

UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft's ProtectWell coronavirus symptom screener
UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft’s ProtectWell coronavirus symptom screener (UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft)

As U.S. companies struggle to bring employees back under stringent new safety requirements, health-care and tech companies are rolling out new services that go beyond temperature checks.

“As businesses begin to reopen, employers will need to monitor and manage their workforce for Covid-19 symptoms to help ensure those at risk of spreading the virus stay home until cleared by medical providers,” Microsoft Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Business, Judson Althoff said.

The app helps employees determine they are safe to go to work, co-workers know their colleagues have been screened, and employees feel confident that their workplace is ready to do business.

Microsoft and UnitedHealth, which use the program for their own workers, are now offering the service to U.S. employers free of charge. The program will include resources and guidelines o COVID-19 testing schedules for different workers within an organization, based on their potential on-the-job exposure to the virus.

ProtectWell app provides the worker with his or her test results and notifies the employer when a worker tests positive for coronavirus.

 “As we plan for a safe and careful return to the workplace, employers need clear guidelines to ensure a safe environment and a robust process for employees to screen themselves for Covid-19 symptoms,” UnitedHealth Chief Scientific Officer Ken Ehlert said.

But the app will not provide tracking and contact tracing information, and while Microsoft’s health-care bot will drive the symptoms screening within the app, UnitedHealth will maintain control over the health data itself.

Under occupational health and safety rules, worker’s personal health information needs to be kept separate from personnel records.

“They are then either cleared to go to work so that all employees know their colleagues have also been cleared or advised to stay home and/or get tested,” a UnitedHealth spokesman said. “If they get tested, the results get to the employee and employer quickly so that the employer can take whatever additional actions are needed to help keep the workplace safe. There’s an employer dashboard that lets employers see trends and anticipate any hotspots in order to help keep their business running, and employees safe.”