UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft launched a new smartphone app Friday that's designed to help employers safely allow their staffs to return to work.
The ProtectWell app, offered at no cost to employers, uses a return-to-workplace protocol that the companies say "provides employers a tool to bring employees back to work in a safer environment.
"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," said UnitedHealth Chief Scientific Officer Ken Ehlert.
The app is powered by UnitedHealth clinical data analysis and uses Microsoft's machine learning technology -- an AI-powered "healthcare bot" that asks users a series of questions to screen for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.
If a risk of infection is indicated, employers can steer the worker to a "closed-loop" testing process through which results are sent directly to the employer.
UnitedHealth says it maintains control over protected healthcare data and manages opt-in and consent requirements needed from app users.
Microsoft, though, will not have access to identifiable information on the ProtectWell app. The tech giant says it will adopt the system for U.S.-based employees.
De-identified workplace health trends and analytics are made available on a dashboard to help employers make "informed occupational and public health decisions," the companies said.
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