Industry Look: HR Technologies Help Propel Healthcare Leaders Through Pandemic Safety

Industry Look: HR Technologies Help Propel Healthcare Leaders Through Pandemic Safety

By Tricia O'Connor

Each industry is facing long-term impacts created by the pandemic. This week, EBI begins a series called ‘Industry Look’ where we examine how certain industries – healthcare, retail, and recreation among them – continue to respond and evolve as the nation’s economic recovery continues.

You’ll notice that HR technologies are at the core of the comeback for each of our example industries. In some cases, business leaders are adapting existing HR technologies to accomplish new strategies. In others, they are embracing new HR technologies to combat current challenges and future-proof their organization for the long haul.

We begin with healthcare, most notably long-term care facilities.

Tackling Pandemic Safety

Nursing homes became “ground zero” for COVID-19 when the first wave of the virus arrived in the United States in Spring 2020. Although less than half of 1% of the U.S. population resides in nursing homes, these residents account for nearly 40% of all COVID-related deaths. Improved vaccine distribution is helping curb COVID-19 outbreaks, but these immunizations won’t protect residents from other illnesses that may arrive in the future. 

Basic measures such as mask requirements, social distancing, and sanitization practices only address immediate outbreak concerns. They have little impact, however, on long-term risk mitigation strategies designed to combat the spread of aggressive future illnesses and boost employee confidence in safety measures. If staff aren’t confident in workplace safety protocols and procedures, they will be less confident in completing their everyday duties, which will have a direct negative effect on resident care.

Innovative Digital Solutions

Fortunately for long-term care facilities, there are new best practices and innovative digital solutions that can help risk managers create a unified strategy that addresses the health and safety of their employees, residents, and visitors in a wider dynamic lens. 

Here are the top three solutions facilities managers can implement to enhance long-term health and safety risk mitigation: 

  • Reducing transmission with contract tracing tools

Although contact tracing can be extremely effective, data shows 75% of people have been falsely quarantined when using only an interview-based contact tracing process. Human-driven methods are time-consuming and costly because they routinely involve tens if not hundreds of phone interviews to trace the virus each time someone is diagnosed positive. The exclusive aim of contact tracing is to inform people whether they’ve had infection-critical contact with an ill person and, if so, to interrupt that chain of infection. 

One of the most reliable contact tracing devices is an extremely lightweight sensor (15 grams) that uses ultra-wideband technology to pinpoint employees’ proximity to one another. Wearables and mobile-connected tools provide more reliable distance and daily health monitoring and enhance data aggregation and analysis to identify trends that will help for future planning when another crisis occurs. This allows risk managers to effectively contact trace when necessary, quickly notify all potentially exposed individuals and act instantaneously to stop the spread.

  • Implementing distance monitoring 

Even though health screenings can prevent symptomatic employees from entering the workplace, asymptomatic employees will still inevitably play into the equation. Between 40-50% of people who test positive for COVID-19 have no symptoms. It is imperative to ensure all physical distance compliance measures are followed. 

By utilizing a combination of wearable devices for staff and connected devices throughout the facility, management can pinpoint employees’ proximity to one another and the duration of interactions. Then, leaders can alert individuals in real-time when they are at increased risk. In the event of an outbreak, these recorded encounters are highly valuable for notifying those who may need to quarantine or be tested.

  • Utilizing analytics dashboards

Daily fluctuations in capacity and foot traffic can be difficult to manage with the population turnover in long-term care facilities. Residents, visitors, and staff can sometimes change by the hour. A dashboard that integrates with thermal scanning and contact-tracing wearables can communicate results to managers in real-time to help track wellness‐related activity. The dashboard can actively analyze real‐time location data and issue notifications, medical guidance, and instructions whenever a manager needs it. 

Additionally, a centralized command center helps management adhere to and stay updated on state and local regulatory health and safety compliance guidance. Ultimately, the ability to view comprehensive data like this improves leadership’s decision-making ability in health and safety-related matters and improves the overall health, confidence, and productivity of facility employees. 

Future-proof Your Facility 

With the right combination of ultra-wideband technology, digitized contact tracing and an analytics dashboard to inform risk management decisions, long-term care facilities will be poised to protect themselves from any illness outbreak. When combined with increasing immunization efforts, risk managers can make more informed decisions to protect employees’ health, build employee confidence and positively impact resident care indefinitely. 

Stem Turnover

Even before the pandemic, the median staff turnover at nursing homes was nearly 100%. Low wages are often to blame, which causes many staff to work multiple jobs at multiple facilities. There is some evidence this is one of the reasons coronavirus was able to spread so quickly in nursing homes.

Parity among the health and safety technologies deployed by long-term care facilities could help stem this type of cross-contamination in the future. With the right combination of ultra-wideband technology, employee privacy measures, and an analytics dashboard to inform risk management decisions, any organization will be poised to protect itself from any illness outbreak. 

EBI Insight

EBI is committed to helping the healthcare industry continue to recover from pandemic-related challenges. We’ve developed a blueprint for implementing workforce safety measures. Our team of experts is also standing by to answer any questions you may have.

As the most-awarded Consumer Reporting Agency in the HRO Today’s Baker’s Dozen history, we are proud to help all businesses from every industry succeed in our post-pandemic economy.

*A version of this article originally appeared in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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