REDMOND — Limiting the potential spread of the coronavirus in the workplace took a big leap forward with the launching of the ProtectWell protocol app that incorporates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and screens individuals for COVID-19 symptoms.
The development of the ProtectWell app is a joint effort of the UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft Corporation.
“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,” Ken Ehlert, chief scientific officer, UnitedHealth Group said in a May 15 press release. "We are pleased to collaborate with Microsoft to launch ProtectWell, a simple and effective tool to ensure employers and employees have the information and resources they need to keep themselves, their colleagues, and the public safe and healthy."
The ProtectWell protocol is supported by a smartphone app powered by Microsoft Azure and allows employers to offer workers a simple screening tool designed for everyday use, the release reads. The app includes an AI-powered health care bot that asks users a series of questions to screen for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. If the risk of infection is indicated, employers can direct their employees to a streamlined COVID-19 testing process that enables closed-loop ordering and reporting of test results directly back to employers.
The UnitedHealth Group maintains control over the protected health care data gathered and will manage opt-in and consent requirements needed from app users. Microsoft will not have access to identifiable information shared via the app.
UnitedHealth Group has implemented ProtectWell with its frontline health care workers and is in the process of implementing the tool across its business too. It is also making the platform available to all employers in the United States free of charge. Microsoft intends to deploy ProtectWell for its U.S.-based employees.