AWS Startups Blog

AWS Healthcare Response Part 4: An Employer’s Guide to Returning to Work

how to return to work safely for employers

Nothing accelerates innovation more than challenges that need to be overcome. Over the last few months, the global healthcare industry has stepped up to the occasion: health systems have been deploying innovative solutions to keep their staff safe and improve patient outcomes, startups have been launching or scaling life-saving technologies, and regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been issuing emergency use authorizations to permit adoption of these technology solutions.

Responding to requests from multiple healthcare organizations around the world, we introduced a series of webinars featuring vetted enterprise-ready startup solutions built on top of AWS and focused on helping healthcare providers navigate the challenges surrounding COVID-19. Below is the fourth in a series of blog posts that shines a spotlight on featured innovative startups. Dive deeper into their solutions, catch up on their presentations via webinar recordings, and get in touch if your healthcare organization needs help. Bringing awareness to these ready-to-deploy technologies may help arm the global healthcare community with the right tools to withstand the challenge.

By Jelena Joffe, AWS Connections, Global Startup Business Development & Corporate Innovation

As an employer, how do you begin to plan for your employees to safely return to the offices and facilities? Which locations do you open up first? What measures can you take to eliminate the need to touch surfaces at entry points? How do you gather employee test results or symptoms in an automated and secure way and know who is safe to return to work and who is not? How do you ensure social distancing practices are complied with inside the facility?

While employers, public health experts, policy makers, and employees themselves try to answer these and other related questions, there are four AWS startup partners that offer a holistic strategy for a safe return to work.

Before diving into each solution, here’s a summary of the strategy your organization might want to follow:

·       Make the lives of your HR teams easier by using RxMx and their Certify COVID Clear data management platform to track real-time employee testing data and daily self-reported symptoms (they can also manage testing logistics for you) to make automated data-driven decisions about who is safe to return to work each day.

·       Leverage AnyVision’s facial recognition technology to install touchless access control and remote personal authentication points at the entrance points (think “check-in with your face”), trace known COVID-19 carriers to protect your employees from exposure, and assess compliance with wearing protective gear.

·       Launch the OKDetect app from a privacy-first contact tracing company HypeLabs (as 30+ governments and dozens of enterprises already did) to send real-time alerts to employees who are not being compliant with social distancing thresholds set by your organization, see heat maps within your facilities, track symptoms and test results, and inform those who have been exposed to infected employees while maintaining their anonymity.

·       While OKDetect gives you actionable micro-level insights, leverage Unacast’s data to define the macro-level approach. See how effective social distancing has been in your geographic area through the Social Distancing Scoreboard (pro bono dataset already used by 4.4M people) and leverage Unacast Recovery Tracker to understand which facilities to open up first and how to put a comprehensive recovery strategy in place.

RxMx: Through their work around supporting pharmaceutical companies with safe delivery of specialty medications, patient engagement, and patient adherence, RxMx was able to build an integrated network of healthcare stakeholders (incl. pathology labs) across Australia, Europe, and the US. During the pandemic, this allowed RxMx to quickly leverage their existing network and technology (with minor modifications) to fill the gap in COVID-19 testing and symptom data management for employers. Certify COVID Clear is a user-friendly digital platform that allows employers to view confidential COVID-19 data in a secure portal in real-time, execute fast and easy employee screening, and develop a responsible return-to-work strategy.

The platform captures several important data sources to help employers make real-time decisions about who is safe to return to work and when: testing data (employee-entered results or real-time data feed from pathology labs), employee-reported symptom and risk data (coming in through the app’s daily symptom checker), and data from additional integrations (wearables, contact tracing, telehealth, digital thermometers, etc.).

RxMx takes time upfront to understand specific organizational needs, configure the workflows (fully automated through algorithms that inform text and email-based alerts), and automate intelligent return-to-work certification, creating a streamlined command center for HR teams (fully integrated with existing people management systems) and providing visibility and peace of mind to employees.

“Platform has to be flexible – a rigid solution cannot adapt to changing guidance or employer needs,” according to Bridget Moran, MPH, Director of Business Development at RxMx.

Built-in flexibility allows organizations to choose from 3 iterations of the RxMx solution based on their needs: platform only (employer portal and employee app, incl. daily symptom tracker and employee-entered testing data), end-to-end turnkey solution (platform plus end-to-end testing logistics), and a hybrid solution (relevant for those companies that have different needs for different locations).

As employers think about their facility network, they may find that at one location there is a necessity to test all associates due to their proximity on the shop floor or a state testing requirement, while at another one employee-entered test results will suffice. Employers may also need to categorize their staff by different risk buckets and create respective configurable workflows. Finally, when an approved vaccine regimen becomes available, it’s important to be able to easily integrate it into the workflow. Having this kind of flexibility and all of the data in one place will be key to establishing a sustainable return-to-work strategy.

Use case: employee screening and testing data management, HR command center.

AnyVision: One of the leading AI-enabled facial recognition companies with offices around the world, AnyVision focused their efforts on applying the core computer vision technology to making the work environment safer and helping care providers protect their staff, identify exposure risks, reduce friction, and continue care delivery.

Leading organizations are working on 3 key challenges of maintaining a safe work environment during the pandemic: eliminating the need to touch surfaces at controlled entry points, increasing security around their people, premises and property, and providing secure remote care and services. AnyVision’s computer vision technology provides a capability for each of these efforts while eliminating the limitations of human sight and cognition, such as a single focal point, fatigue, memory, and bias.

Touchless access control offers a “new norm” of a facial recognition entry solution that reduces friction and allows for an efficient way to process a flow of employees or patients. At control entry points, a turnstile or a door is opened by a camera that compares an employee’s face to a database of people with approved access in a split second.

Watchlist alerting for perimeter control, internal security and contact tracing pairs with existing device infrastructure, creates a viral exposure graph (identifying known COVID-19 carriers and drawing out the path of potentially exposed people who came in contact with them) and sends real-time automated alerts, augmenting the work of human operators and allowing employers or public health officials to notify potentially exposed individuals. It also allows to employers to enforce digital barriers for quarantine or verify if employees are compliant with social distancing or PPE (personal protective equipment) wearing guidelines. Computer vision contact tracing was pioneered at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv (ranked #9 in the world) to help the care provider increase safety and security of their staff and patients.

“New norm: in-person visits will be pre-approved and authenticated remotely,” posits Adam Devine, Chief Marketing Officer at AnyVision.

Remote identity authentication and verification is another “new norm” solution for providing secure access on a personal device, including for in-person visits at the healthcare facilities. Using the patient’s own mobile phone and a service provider’s app, the system validates this is a real person, allows to remotely authenticate the person’s identity, and grants access to the secure environment (or admits on site).

While this is an efficient way of digital patient on-boarding and check-in, the application of AnyVision’s identity authentication technology (called SesaMe) is much broader. For example, it is already being used in Financial sector (by the largest Israeli bank) to allow customers to open bank accounts from the comfort of their homes. Coupled with contact tracing and fraud prevention capabilities, remote authentication becomes a differentiator in providing the “new norm” of customer service.

Use case: touchless access control, alerting and remote authentication.

HypeLabs: End-to-end privacy-first contact tracing company HypeLabs, originally from Portugal, responded to the requests of their enterprise customers to use their patented offline connectivity solutions (that allow devices to connect without internet) to safely re-open factories and facilities by creating the OKDetect application. OKDetect enables employee-driven contact tracing and allows employers to keep track of the health status of their workforce and send real-time alerts and news.

“Employees take ownership of their health status and safety of their peers, while maintaining privacy.” – Carlos Lei, Co-founder and CEO at HypeLabs.

OKDetect is built with privacy in mind. It utilizes secure Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology and cryptography to protect the employee’s identity by generating a random anonymous device ID number. The app runs on the background and registers any proximity contact between the device and others via BLE and WiFi antennas. The proximity contact is defined by specific thresholds of distance (e.g. 6 feet) and timing (e.g. 3 min) set by the organization. The app works in conjunction with a web portal for HR teams to manage the health status of their workforce and set automated alerts to employees that may have been in close contact with a recently infected coworker. Employees are able to self-report symptoms and test results through the secure app, allowing HR teams to trace back their anonymous ID to any proximity contacts and send at-risk employees pre-programmed news and alerts. If employees opt in for a GPS tracking feature, the system can also send them real-time phone notifications when they congregate beyond the permitted thresholds (too close or for too long).

The portal includes an analytics dashboard that provides HR and management visibility into the heat maps of areas where employees aren’t following the social distancing practices as well as the employees who tested positive and their 1st and 2nd degree proximity contacts. The system is easy to use and can be deployed within hours via AWS Marketplace.

Use case: employee-driven contact tracing and real-time alerts.

Unacast: Unacast harnesses location intelligence to understand how humans navigate the physical world, leveraging anonymized and aggregated GPS signals and helping organizations make critical business decisions. Their Real World Graph® provides a variety of metrics that can be used to evaluate COVID-19’s impact on a facility’s or neighborhood’s activity levels. During the pandemic, Unacast’s insights on human activity and geographical movement proved to be extremely relevant to accurately illustrate the effectiveness and impact of social distancing. Collaborating with geo-spatial planners, Unacast created a Social Distancing Scoreboard at the end of March – a pro bono dataset available on AWS Marketplace and already being used by 4.4M people.

The Social Distancing Scoreboard features four key metrics for the U.S. states and counties to understand the impact and effectiveness of social distancing and create a better response plan: % of change in an average distance traveled, % of change in non-essential visitation, decrease in human encounters (to see where policies need to be enforced), and origin-destination flux (to understand where people are fleeing to in order to know where services will be needed; this metric is coming soon). The Scoreboard received a large media coverage and drew interest from a wide variety of stakeholders, from governments to CEOs to park rangers. All of the parties were looking for answers to three key questions: How does my city, county or state rank in terms of social distancing? Which industries are showing the signs of recovery? And what are the indications that a local area is recovering?

Being most excited about enabling recovery, Unacast kept exploring how their insights could help the world get back to work and as a result created the Unacast Recovery Tracker, currently in beta. Employers can zoom into geographic locations of their offices and facilities via the Tracker, see which areas are recovering or not, review the historic patterns of pre and post-COVID movement data, analyze pockets of recovering areas (both where the facilities are located and where the employees live), and based on this assessment, plan which locations would be safe to open and when.

Combining the two tools – Social Distancing Scoreboard and Recovery Tracker – will help employers with risk management (what is the right time and geography to open), financial planning and analysis (what are the key macro-economic indicators and signals of recovery, combined with industry-specific data), and supply chain management (how do you plan capacity based on changing demand in a market, how to you manage social distancing on the shop floor, and how do you create relevant policies and processes to establish a safe work environment within the new guidelines). Unacast also developed a 3rd tool for retail impact recovery which you can read about here. Use these tools to derive human mobility insights for a safe return to work.

Use case: datasets for location-based recovery planning. Unacast presentation.

Let our AWS Healthcare Startup team know if we can help your organization in any way at