Microsoft, UnitedHealth launch COVID-19 screening app for the workplace

Microsoft and UnitedHealth Group are launching a free smartphone app that businesses and employees can use to digitally screen for COVID-19 symptoms and clear those who can return to work. 

Based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ProtectWell app uses Microsoft’s chatbot interface to ask the user a series of daily questions, such as whether they have had a fever or any respiratory symptoms or whether they’ve been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.

For those at risk, the app can also help direct employees through ordering a coronavirus test. Personal healthcare information will be managed by UnitedHealth and the user’s employers—however, de-identified data on workforce health trends will be made available to a broader number of employers and public health organizations, the companies said.

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“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,” UnitedHealth’s chief scientific officer, Ken Ehlert, said in a statement.

The app also includes guidelines for physical distancing, personal hygiene and sanitation in the workplace. UnitedHealth has already begun using the app with its own healthcare workers, while Microsoft plans to do the same for its U.S. employees.