UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) have joined forces to launch ProtectWell™, an innovative return-to-workplace protocol that enables employers to bring employees back to work in a safer environment. ProtectWell™ helps employees determine they are safe to go to work, co-workers know their colleagues have been screened, and employers feel confident that their workplace is ready to do business. ProtectWell™ incorporates Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and the latest clinical research to limit the spread of COVID-19 by screening employees for symptoms and establishing guidelines to support the health and safety of the workforce and workplace.
ProtectWell™ combines UnitedHealth Group’s clinical and data analytics capabilities with Microsoft’s technology leadership to help in the next phases of COVID-19 recovery efforts. The ProtectWell™ app is powered by Microsoft Azure, AI and analytics solutions, and also takes advantage of the Microsoft Healthcare Bot service, which is being used around the world for AI-assisted COVID-19 symptom triaging.
The ProtectWell™ protocol is supported by a smartphone app that allows employers to offer workers a simple screening tool designed for everyday use. The ProtectWell™ app includes an AI-powered health care bot that asks users a series of questions to screen for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. If risk of infection is indicated, employers can direct their employees to a streamlined COVID-19 testing process that enables closed-loop ordering and reporting of test results directly back to employers. Health care information is managed by UnitedHealth Group and employers in accordance with occupational health laws.
In addition, ProtectWell™ includes guidelines and resources to support a safe work environment, including physical distancing, personal hygiene, sanitation and more. Employers can also choose additional custom content specific to their workforce for a personalized experience.
“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,” said Ken Ehlert, chief scientific officer, UnitedHealth Group. “We are pleased to collaborate with Microsoft to launch ProtectWell™, a simple and effective tool to ensure employers and employees have the information and resources they need to keep themselves, their colleagues and the public safe and healthy.”
Microsoft Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Business, Judson Althoff said: “As businesses begin to reopen, employers will need to monitor and manage their workforce for COVID-19 symptoms to help ensure those at risk of spreading the virus stay home until cleared by medical providers. Microsoft is pleased to join with UnitedHealth Group to launch ProtectWell™, which helps organizations manage the complexity of this undertaking.”
UnitedHealth Group has implemented ProtectWell™ with its own frontline health care workers, is in process of implementing the tool across its business to enable safe return of team members to the workplace, and is making the platform available to all employers in the United States at no charge. Microsoft intends to deploy ProtectWell™ for its U.S.-based employees.
The ProtectWell™ smartphone app is powered by Microsoft Azure, together with its industry-leading security and compliance offerings, and allows employers to better plan, manage resources, care for their employees, and reallocate resources to help safeguard their workforce, workplace and business continuity. UnitedHealth Group will maintain control over protected health care data and will manage opt-in and consent requirements needed from app users. Microsoft will not have access to identifiable information shared via the ProtectWell™ app. De-identified workforce health trends and analytics information will help employers and policymakers make informed occupational and public health decisions.
ProtectWell™ is the latest of many initiatives announced by UnitedHealth Group to combat COVID-19. Other initiatives to date include:
- Providing $1.5 billion in direct customer and consumer support through premium credits, cost-sharing waivers and other efforts.
- Accelerating payments to providers throughout the crisis, with an initial tranche of nearly $2 billion.
- Waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment for U.S. members of UnitedHealthcare plans and simplifying access to care by reducing prior-authorization requirements.
- Pioneering self-administered swab procedures to expand COVID-19 testing, reduce needed personal protective equipment and protect health care workers from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19.
- Supporting the Mayo Clinic’s groundbreaking research into the therapeutic potential of using plasma from COVID-19 survivors.
- Deploying 3,000 “light ventilators” to address critical shortages in the nation’s supply of ventilators.
- Significantly expanding access to telehealth and virtual visits and redeploying 10,000 Optum clinicians to expand telehealth capabilities.
- Providing a special enrollment period for fully insured customers to allow employees who did not opt in for coverage during the regular enrollment period to secure coverage.
- Conducting proactive personal outreach to support seniors and the most vulnerable populations among our members.
- Launching a free nationwide emotional support line to manage the stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19.
- Investing nearly $75 million to help at-risk populations, support communities and protect the health care workforce.
- Converting company cafeterias to provide more than 75,000 meals a week for people in need and keep our cafe team at work.