UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft partnered to launch a tool that allows employers to screen workers for COVID-19 symptoms.
The smartphone app, called ProtectWell, asks users a series of questions to screen for symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. Employers can then direct employees who may have been infected to get tested; results will be reported directly to the employer, the companies said Friday.
ProtectWell is meant to help employers bring workers back to the office in a safe way as state governments begin to ease stay-at-home orders and other restrictions meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It includes guidelines and other resources to support U.S. employers and is available at no cost.
"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 at UnitedHealth, said in a statement.
UnitedHealth has already implemented the tool with its own frontline healthcare workers and is in the process of rolling it out across the rest of its business. Microsoft also plans to use the app for its U.S.-based employees.
The companies said UnitedHealth will control the protected health care data and manage opt-in and consent requirements needed from app users. Microsoft will not have access to identifiable information shared through the app. They said the de-identified data would help employers and policymakers make occupational and public health decisions.