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What Happens to Your Data When Healthcare Meets the Office?

Posted September 9, 2020 By Convene

From daily temperature checks and screenings to community-wide disclosures, entering today’s workplace can start to look and feel a lot like a doctor’s office. And while these necessary measures have been implemented alongside a series of protocols to protect the safety of employees and patrons, they’re now sparking concerns around personal data and privacy.

Offering up your email address for a newsletter subscription is one thing, but disclosing details about your health—whether digitally or in person—is another. That’s why it’s crucial to understand not only why certain questions are being asked of you, but where and how your answers will be stored or shared. This monitoring may become more commonplace as time goes on, but researching the platforms or companies you’re sharing your information with can help confirm whether or not they adhere to best-in-class privacy policies, and ultimately, ensure that your data is safe. 

As a landlord or office manager, you’re responsible for implementing and overseeing this screening to understand the real-time status of people coming into your spaces. But it’s possible to conduct this monitoring in ways that alleviate concerns about privacy, too. By partnering with reputable, HIPAA-compliant healthcare and technology providers, and communicating honestly about what type of information is requested and how it is used, you’ll be able to appropriately manage expectations and help facilitate a safer workplace—both physically and psychologically. 

To reopen its spaces safely, Convene has taken a multi-layered approach to safety and risk-reducing measures, which includes not only intensified cleaning methods and updated layouts to accommodate social distancing, but the active monitoring of employees and members, and disclosures within the community regarding positive cases or potential exposure. By partnering with Eden Health, a national primary care and insurance resource for employers with both in-person and telehealth infrastructure, Convene is able to offer digital screenings through its app, while also ensuring that the personal information collected is kept private. “Convene takes data security seriously in all things we do,” said Caroline England, the Vice President of Product Management. “We’ve done a lot of work to feel really confident with what we’re putting forward. It’s a new world for not only getting into a building, but how people are working.”

These daily screenings consist of a series of questions informed by CDC guidelines regarding symptoms and risk factors for coronavirus, plus a remote temperature check. The results generated by this screening are color-coded (green, yellow, red) for easy analysis, and depending on the outcome, the participant may be offered a live consultation with an Eden Health clinician. “Providing Eden Health to all of our employees and members as a part of their membership, and the opportunity for follow up care, really sets us apart in our industry,” said Nick LiVigne, Convene’s Vice President of Product. 

By making this platform accessible to its entire community and requiring daily screening prior to entry, Convene is able to foster a safe work environment by equipping each individual with the tools and services needed to monitor and maintain their health, plus the reassurance that their personal data is being managed safely and securely.

“We’ve leveraged technology at Convene to offer a speedier entry into the building and to make the screenings as smooth as possible,” said Shauki Villar, the Director of Engineering. “But these answers aren’t used for any purpose other than letting our employees and members know whether or not they should isolate, or if they are able to come into the office.” As a HIPAA compliant healthcare provider, Eden Health also encrypts all data collected to ensure it’s safeguarding individual privacy, even while navigating issues of public health.

While it may seem inconvenient or even feel invasive to complete this screening so frequently, this constant monitoring helps control the risk for everyone passing through shared spaces—including employees, members, vendors, and guests—as accurately as possible. For that reason, it’s crucial that this screening is carried out daily, and that it exists within a larger system of health and safety protocols. “Just because you’ve had one negative test doesn’t mean you’re in the clear for the future,” said LiVigne. “It represents a snapshot in time. We understand that, and that’s why we’ve instituted a multi-layered approach, which collectively adds up to reducing risk across the board.” 

In the event that someone reports a positive test result, Convene discloses that information with both employees and members at the respective location—without releasing the name of the person in question. This transparency has remained a core tenant of Convene’s coronavirus response, and it creates a two-way trust: Convene trusts its community to answer daily screenings as honestly and accurately as possible, and the community trusts Convene to communicate effectively and sensitively as well. 

“As responsible members of society, we all have a role to play in protecting public health,” said Matt McCambrige, co-founder and CEO of Eden Health. As we adjust to new ways of working, it is increasingly important to comply with these screenings and strive for the safest office environment possible. But alongside those efforts, it’s also important to remain informed about how your data is being used. Before you complete your next screening, here are some things to consider:

Proceed with Caution: Be mindful of the brands and platforms you interact with and the security of their technology.  

Do Your Homework: Before sharing your personal information, read up or ask someone for their stance on data privacy and whether or not they are HIPPA compliant. 

Understand the Impact: Confirm not only what information of yours is stored, but what is shared internally or otherwise.  

Analyze the Ask: Be aware of the questions asked and whether or not they’re relevant to your interaction. This may be a red flag that the company is overstepping. 

Trust Your Gut: Continue to do your part by following all necessary protocols, but be sure to listen to your instincts, particularly as it relates to releasing your personal information to a source that seems less than trustworthy. 

• For Eden Health’s downloadable guide for employers, visit: “Returning to Work Safely: Medically-Validated Approaches to COVID-19.” 

• For more information on Convene’s Operation Standards & Safety Protocols. click HERE.

• For the official guidelines on information and privacy, as established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, visit HERE.


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