In Washington state, the majority of restrictions on gathering limits have now been lifted. While a sense of normalcy has returned to our region quickly, mindfulness and vigilance around the spread of the virus and its variants should not be abandoned entirely. Discovery Health MD is thrilled to announce the release of a new Early Detection Program and mobile app that allows high-density workforces in the maritime industry to self-report and monitor symptoms.
“The most important thing to bear in mind right now is that we’re not out of the woods,” says Dr. Ann Jarris, our co-founder and CEO. Vaccination is highly protective against severe disease, death and hospitalization, but you can still contract the virus if you’re vaccinated. “The concern is about the Delta and Gamma variants,” Dr. Jarris explains. “The variants are more transmissible and can cause more severe disease. There is still a lot of reason to be careful.”
Workforces that are 100 percent vaccinated appear to be faring well, but there is a lack of vaccine confidence among a portion of the population and children under 12 cannot yet be immunized. Due to the low rate of disease and the possibility of false-positive results in a highly vaccinated population, surveillance testing is not recommended for vaccinated, asymptomatic individuals. That means the best way to monitor a highly vaccinated workplace for outbreaks is to track symptoms.
Tracking Symptoms in the Workplace
Many outfits in the maritime industry have been tracking symptoms manually with spreadsheets or pen and paper. Thanks to the Safe Start grant from the U.S. and Washington State Departments of Commerce, a new solution is now available. In partnership with the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and Washington Maritime Blue, we’ve developed a mobile app that allows high-density critical infrastructure employers to streamline symptom tracking among their workforce at no cost.
“This is an easy way for people to self-report,” Dr. Jarris says. “It increases a company’s situational awareness and provides an early warning if the virus has arrived in the community.” Early clusters of symptoms within a vaccinated population allow for targeted testing. The new app integrates with IHME data so patterns in the greater community can be detected as well.
The app can be configured so that an employer’s medical lead can complete the survey on behalf of employees, or employees can self-report. Responses are captured anonymously. Results are made available in customized reports and web-based dashboards. The symptom and temperature thresholds can be tailored to suit the operating conditions of a given workforce, and questions about vaccine acceptance can also be built into the intake survey. This allows employers to target education and increase their percentage of vaccinated workers.
A successful reopening depends on widespread vaccination.
A lack of vaccine acceptance, the current absence of a vaccine for children under 12, and the unknowns around the virus’ variants mean we must continue to be vigilant about our own health and the health of our community members.
If you’re interested in learning more about the app or enrolling in the program, write to [email protected] and we’ll schedule a kick-off meeting with IHME to verify that the program is suitable for your organization.