The past several months have brought unprecedented challenges to nearly every organization across the globe, especially in the healthcare industry. And with fall approaching, the possibility of COVID-19 and flu season colliding is a likely scenario that leaders should be preparing for now.
In late February, WHO announced the recommended composition of the influenza virus vaccine for the 2020-2021 season. Since it takes approximately six months to produce mass quantities of the flu vaccine and flu season typically lasts six to eight months, we could be seeing considerable challenges September 2020 through May 2021. The CDC estimates at least 39 million positive cases, 410,000 hospitalizations, and 24,000 deaths in the U.S. from the flu last season. With the possible complications of COVID-19 and the flu virus spreading at the same time this year, the CDC says the flu vaccine is more important than ever.
Whether your organization has been supporting frontline workers during the pandemic or you’re determining the details of staff returning to work, it’s imperative that reliable employee health tracking processes are in place to ensure the well-being of your entire workforce as well as customers, clients, and patients, especially as we approach this critical period when the potential risk of two respiratory viruses is possible.
To get ready for the potential virus combo this fall, we’ve compiled a list of five tips to help get your employee health tracking processes in order.
1. Go digital with your employee health tracking
One of the most arduous business tasks is keeping track of paper documents or manual data entry, like filling out paperwork, entering data into Excel files, or scheduling individual employee screenings. These repetitive tasks can increase the likelihood of human error or lost or corrupted files. Moving to a digital environment for data collection can help reduce redundant tasks while streamlining processes. With more advanced technology systems, these business processes can even be standardized and automated with the added bonus of data aggregation tools, cloud-based storage, and additional security layers.
2. Enhance corporate wellness checks and clinics
As employees return back to work, daily or weekly wellness screenings (employee temperature checks, health questionnaires, and safety reminders) are becoming the norm. It’s crucial that a streamlined process is set up for employees to self-report, so risks can be quickly identified and employees feel supported to stay home and get well. Additionally, wellness screenings during the fall may need to help pinpoint both COVID-19 and flu symptoms separately, so it’s important that a system is in place to recognize the difference in symptoms and know who did and didn’t get their flu shot.
With varying schedules and shifts, it can be challenging to offer a flu shot clinic or wellness clinic that every employee can get to, especially if the process is perceived as time-consuming. Going digital with paperwork and encouraging employees to submit it beforehand can reduce wait times. Get creative and be flexible in how, when, and where you offer clinics and include incentives to promote employee attendance. For example, you could provide a chance to win a large prize or offer a giveaway for every attendee. The cost savings from less employee sick days outweighs the investment. As another option—especially in these days of social distancing—consider allowing employees who can’t make it to your clinic to go to their PCP or a pharmacy clinic within a certain time frame (with the proper documentation, of course).
3. Automate communication
Emailing your employees to remind them about a required screening or vaccination document is just as tedious and time-intensive as manual paperwork and data entry. Automating email notifications helps reduce costs and time associated with communicating your employee health requirements. While tools like tasks in Outlook or scheduled emails to employees in Outlook or Gmail email systems can take some of the time-consuming work of individual emails off your plate, more advanced technology software platforms offer customized, automated email workflows that differentiate employees who are compliant with those who need to be contacted, handling your email communication in a very intuitive way from beginning to end.
4. Get employees and supervisors involved
Occupational and employee health compliance often falls under the responsibility of an employee health nurse or a hospital’s HR department; however, the most successful employee health programs have engagement from all levels of the organization. Employee health compliance occurs faster and more efficiently when accountability is shared throughout the organization. Keep employees aware of their compliance status and provide tools for them to self-report from any location and involve supervisors to help monitor their employees’ statuses. Also consider establishing an employee health compliance committee made up of representatives from different areas of your organization to gather feedback and promote compliance requirements.
5. Measure, monitor, and report
Once you’ve gone digital, creating reports will likely be a faster and more insightful process. With the fast-paced nature of viruses like COVID-19 and the flu, it’s vital that you have a quick yet reliable way to generate reports, identify trends, and pinpoint risks among your workforce. If you are still tracking in Excel and have master-level Excel or Access skills, there are likely ways to create reports, but this still requires additional time and effort to implement. Your goal should be to streamline your input and output processes for employee health information so you can automate reporting and recognize major challenges and risks as well as opportunities quickly.
How to get started
The best place to start is with the end in mind: identify what employee health information you want to track and are required to have for compliance, and then work backward to determine the process to gather, organize, and generate a report about that information. This could include wellness screenings, immunizations, illnesses, injuries, certifications, and more. Start small by identifying what employee health information is the priority to track immediately (like COVID-19 wellness screenings and flu shots), and once you have that process in place, then you can scale it for other employee health information you need to track.
Discover the technology that makes it easy
As the leading cloud-based software for occupational and employee health tracking, Immuware is a comprehensive tracking tool that allows your organization to achieve 100% automation of end-to-end compliance workflow. Immuware features an online portal that gives employees and supervisors the ability to track their own health requirements as well as clinicians. Data is aggregated and analyzed automatically for real-time reports, helping organizations achieve compliance 40% faster. Automated communication tools help keep employees informed and connected. This secure and customizable solution also provides the necessary framework to launch COVID-19 wellness screenings fast. To learn more, contact Keaton at firstname.lastname@example.org.