Digital Check-Ins for COVID-19 Provide Additional Safety Benefits

Smartphone apps can help workers manage their own personal health information.

Worker looking at cell phone

Companies that employ essential workers, including union members, have come up with various ways to manage onsite health screenings. Almost everybody does a temperature check on arrival. For the next step, which is asking COVID-19-related health questions, some companies assign administrators to interview employees and record their answers on a sheet that’s later input into an HR system. This holds up productivity while employees wait in line trying to keep 6 ft apart. Other companies ask employees to complete their own health screenings and submit their answers on a pdf that gets emailed to their supervisor and the human resources (HR) department.  

Managing those records is next to impossible. Sorting through the files, cross-checking them with employee time sheets, and expecting to sufficiently identify and alert employees to potential exposure to COVID-19 in a timely way is unrealistic, not to mention the potential HIPAA violations. 

Employers, and smart technology companies, quickly realized the frailties in these approaches. That’s why there’s been an uptick in digital check-in apps for COVID-19. These apps streamline the health screening process by having employees log in via their smartphones to answer questions based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local mandates. And they’re simple to use. Essentially, an employee walks up to a designated check-in area, points their smartphone at a QR-coded poster to check in, and answers questions for the health screening. They get instant notification on whether they’re allowed to enter their site. Their boss and HR also get real-time alerts.  

The digital check-in process minimizes all of the issues associated with an administrator interview at the start of the shift, including the potential for human error. It also enables employers to keep a secure digital record of employees who have been denied access to a site so they can take action and, if necessary, conduct contact tracing.  

The upside of employees using these smartphone apps is that they can manage their own personal health information. Also, the employer doesn’t have to take on the expense and risk of knowing employee health information. If they need to do contact tracing, they can align phone identification data with check-in records and still never see responses to the health questions. Their only concern is that worksites are safe and not a source for passing COVID-19.  

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