Zebra, VitalTech release digital health solutions for employees returning to work

The app and kit intend to use proximity alerts, contact tracing and health monitoring to help keep employees safe from COVID-19.
By Mallory Hackett
01:37 pm
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Two workers in vests and masks move a pallet of boxes with a machine lift.

Healthcare technology companies Zebra Technologies and VitalTech recently announced new digital health efforts aimed at keeping workers healthy as businesses start to reopen. 

Zebra’s app, MotionWorks Proximity includes proximity and contact-tracing data that employees can view on the app’s dashboard or in employer reports. It also has the capability to alert users when they violate social distancing guidelines. 

The app, which is available for all Zebra-supported devices, helps employees social-distance by alerting users when they come too close together. Its algorithm is designed to prevent false alerts by giving a 60-second time frame before the notification is sent out. Once the initial separation message is dispatched, workers will receive reminders every minute until the proper distance is achieved. 

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Managers will also be able to see trends in employee contact over time. When employees are too close to one another for more than five minutes the program will start to collect data about the event including the duration of the event and the identities of the employees. The application dashboard then offers insights in recurring events and patterns in an effort to keep workers safely distanced. 

In addition, Zebra’s app tracks possible exposures through its contact-tracing report. It can identify the individual and the interactions they had as well the time and duration of each interaction. All of the data collected by the app is connected to an employee ID, which can be anonymized to allow for employer tracking while keeping the privacy of individual employees.

VitalTech’s Enterprise Solution kit includes equipment for at-home use so people can check for signs of illness and take a risk-assessing questionnaire before they get to work.

It comes with a Bluetooth thermometer and pulse oximeter so employees can record their temperature and oxygen saturation on their own. The vitals get automatically uploaded to the VitalCare portal, where a third-party team can review the data and notify the employer if needed. 

To ensure employee privacy, VitalTech’s solution only shows employers whether or not someone passed the health assessment.

WHY IT MATTERS

As businesses begin to reopen, the need to protect workers from contracting COVID-19 is a concern for public health officials. 

The CDC has released a set of guidelines for employees to implement as they get back to work. Recommendations include conducting daily health checks, completing a workplace-risk evaluation, encouraging the use of face masks and social distancing, and increasing ventilation inside the workplace.

Zebra and VitalTech are both pitching their tools as a way to ease the process of ensuring employees' health. 

“We understand the complex challenges employers are navigating right now as they try to bring employees back to work while ensuring their health and safety,” James Hamilton, VitalTech’s CEO, said in a statement. “Through our Enterprise Solution kit, employers can have peace of mind knowing their employees will have the tools to monitor their vitals, and will be notified if any are showing symptoms of illness before they enter the workplace.”

THE LARGER TREND

A number of contact-tracing apps have been introduced to the market in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. India and France are two countries that have released apps of their own. Apple and Google made headlines when they teamed up to create contact-tracing capabilities for their devices.

The World Health Organization has also begun work to ensure that under resourced countries have access to contact-tracking technology.

However, contact-tracing efforts haven’t been without controversy. In late May the government of Qatar’s mandatory COVID-19-tracing app came into question after an Amnesty International investigation exposed a weakness in its configuration that could have left it open for cyberattacks. 

ON THE RECORD

“To protect our frontline workers and those returning to our offices, we have been prioritizing our employees’ health and safety,” Bill Burns, chief product and solutions officer at Zebra Technologies, said in a statement. “Teams across our company rapidly defined, developed and deployed a proximity-tracing, alerting and contact-tracing solution within one of our largest distribution facilities, and now it’s available to help protect our customers’ employees in manufacturing and warehouse environments.”

 

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