Digital Health Solution for “COVID-19 Back to Work” market- will this become the next big thing?

First wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has been addressed with public health measures such as lockdowns and social distancing. Now, as restrictions are gradually being lifted, companies have started to bring their employees back to the office. Employers must ensure that this return is safe and will not cause yet another outbreak. This need has resulted in the creation of a “back to work” market and vendors from diverse industries are rushing to capitalize on it.

The COVID – 19 pandemic has starkly driven up the demand for digital health services. Prominent examples of such solutions include national Covid-19 tracing apps, which have seen in most countries modest adoption rates. Telehealth vendors have benefited the most looking at massively increased number of remote consultations during the first half of 2020. These, together with public health initiatives such as lockdowns, social distancing, wearing face masks and use of hand sanitizers have been critical in combating the first wave of the pandemic.

Now, with gradual lifting of restrictions, combined with the need to revitalize the economy, businesses small and large are starting to reopen. This has resulted in the necessity to develop a system on how to open the workplace safely. Companies must make sure that they can either prevent or are able to withstand a second wave of the pandemic. This created a new demand, which is making vendors from different industries rush towards developing products and services for the “COVID-19 back to work” market.

Vendors of the “back to work” market come from diverse industries such as hospitals, digital health startups, specialized equipment manufacturers, software companies, pharmacy chains, as well as manufacturers of Covid-19 test kits. They differ in size and offer already a wide range of services. Vendors can either specialize in one service area, such as UDV equipping hospitals with autonomous ultraviolet-light (UV) disinfection robots or provide integrated services like CVS pharmacy’s “Return Ready” program. These include tracing, testing and a comprehensive action plan to reopen business.

These services address the safety and wellbeing of employees’ from different angles:

  • Education: Training employees on disease prevention techniques and prepare them via simulations in case there is a new outbreak.
  • Testing: Providing Covid-19 testing services either at the office premises, testing locations, drive troughs or even have a kit sent to their homes. It is noteworthy that in the case of testing, a local partner with established testing facilities is a more viable option and thus preferred by companies.
  • Tracing: Recording employee interactions via contact within at the workplace and possibly even beyond.
  • Monitoring: Gathering regular, updated information on the health status of employees using tools like symptom checker. When aggregated with tracing data, it can enable employers make an informed decision on whether to reopen their operations and alert them regarding possible risks.
  • Healthcare support: Conducting risk assessment by clinical staff via reviewing workplace safety, as well as connecting with doctors via telehealth consultations.
  • Disinfection Services: Ranges from simply offering hand sanitizer to the comprehensive process of installing autonomous UV disinfection robots that prevent the spread of harmful microorganisms by breaking down their DNA-structure.
  • Quarantine Management: Offering tools designed to help the mental wellbeing of employees who are unable to return to the office and allowing them to engage with their colleagues. Lastly, providing continued care for employees who are still infected, to safeguard their health before they are ready to return to work.

Businesses must find a safe way to bring their employees back to the workplace. An outbreak will not only expose employees to health risks but also have substantial economic consequences. In that regard, all companies must:

  • Do a risk assessment: This can be done via gathering data from daily symptom checks and tracing services.
  • Develop a “COVID-19 back to work” safety plan: The plan should be based on the risk assessment and tailored to the needs and conditions of a particular industry.
  • Find an appropriate partner/ service provider (vendor): Partners can help businesses plan and execute reopening strategies and mitigate risks. The choice of the partner will in most cases, have to be a local one. This is particularly true for testing services, as they will already have the necessary infrastructure and logistics required to cater to the needs of the employers.
  • Implement continuous monitoring: Employers need to be alert about possible risks in order to respond effectively and therefore implement infrastructure and dashboards to monitor employee interaction and health.
  • Offer digital care services: Services like telehealth and digital mental health/ wellbeing solutions will allow employees to access healthcare with minimal exposure and risk.

After the strong uptake of telehealth solutions, “back to work” services will be the next big thing to grow the digital health market globally. Vendors from diverse industries including big tech like Google and Salesforce have already started entering the market. Eventually as countries/societies return to normalization, more and more companies and institutions will have to open up including companies from all industries but also schools, universities, public offices, community centers or event locations.

It is a global need. With millions of corporates and institutions to be addressed. With each COVID-19 outbreak the demand for “back to work” services will become bigger.

Get in touch to find out what your company can do.