Skip to main content

Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace: CDC Says Case Management Can Help

Jorge Sanchez, Sr. Director, Product Strategy, Appian
December 2, 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released recommendations on how organizations should use case management solutions to manage returning to onsite work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CDC, case management tools can "make the traditional contact tracing process faster and more efficient" by streamlining data capture and management and merging workflows with other workforce management solutions such as surveillance systems. Case management systems also empower case workers to provide personalized help, suggestions, and actions during these unprecedented times.

Case management tools are playing a crucial role as more companies bring employees back to the workplace. Most reopening strategies start with employee health surveys, return-to-work passes, and shift management. That's all important but it's just the beginning. What happens when there's an exposure, a positive COVID test, or even a cluster of positive tests? If you want to reopen and stay open safely, you have to be prepared to respond to any scenario. Workforces safety solutions with built-in incident case management can help.

3 Ways Case Management Solutions Help Fight COVID In the Workplace:

1. Rapidly Manage a Collection of Cases

Coronavirus cases are rarely isolated. The fact is, every possible exposure or positive test could result in half a dozen or more case management scenarios. In order to fully resolve an incident, you'll need to track and solve several cases at once.

For example, consider what happens when one of your employees tests positive for coronavirus. That should immediately kick off a series of actions. Each of these "actions" represents a "case" that will need to be investigated by case workers. The speed of your response will determine if the exposures become outbreaks among your workforce.

Start with contact tracing. The affected employee should self-report who they were in contact with and what areas of the workplace they visited. Other employees may also report contact with the impacted employee. Even if you have Bluetooth or GPS technologies in place to track your workers' locations, keep in mind that self-reported data will be more trustworthy because Bluetooth doesn't account for office walls.

Everyone who may have been exposed will need their own case to track. Who all have they seen since they were last in contact with the sick employee? What areas of the workplace did they visit? How long should they isolate? Should they get tested? When can they return to the workplace? Every organization and every industry will have their own guidelines to answer these questions and more.

Meanwhile, the affected employee's case manager should immediately be in touch with next steps. Make expectations abundantly clear: How long should the employee quarantine themselves? Should they seek medical attention? What resources are available to them? How often should they expect to hear from the case manager? When do you consider it safe for them to return to the workplace?

Cases should also be created for facility management. A case management tool can notify the cleaning staff to disinfect any area that needs it. You should also decide whether to close down sections of your workplace and for how long.

Every organization's protocols will vary, and no two incidents will ever be the same. That leads me to the second benefit.

2. Reduce Risk by Automating Where You Can

You may have the most thoroughly documented plan for responding to incidents. But if that plan is left up to individual case managers to learn and execute, your entire organization is at risk.

An automated workforce safety solution with roots in case management brings together people, processes, and data. By standardizing a complicated, high-stress situation like a COVID-19 incident, dynamic case management tools help ease the burden on case workers while protecting your workers and your organization. They provide structure and documentation every step of the way. You can automate tasks such as employee health surveys or notifying a cleaning team to disinfect an area. But you're still in control, so case workers can redefine actions or stop a process at any time.

Also consider what happens when an incident needs to be escalated. With a case management tool, you can build in checkpoints that can automatically flag things like multiple positive COVID-19 tests from a single external vendor. Then a case manager can decide whether to ban that vendor from the workplace for a period of time.

3. Reassure Employees with a Personalized Approach

"Technology can support case investigation and contact tracing but cannot take the place of the staff who interview, counsel, and provide support for those impacted by COVID-19," notes the CDC guidelines.

This pandemic is a unique situation that, above all, requires a personalized touch. No two cases will ever be the same. Employees will require guidance and reassurance, and case workers may even personally know the infected individual, making a guided case experience even more important.

At a time when the stress and stakes have never been higher, it's critical to reassure employees that you have their best interests at heart.

Case management gives you the control and flexibility you need so you can respond uniquely to cases. This in turn improves the employee experience. Workers feel more confident in your approach and more satisfied with their jobs, which helps you retain good employees.

Case Management: The Foundation of Workforce Safety

Appian -- the industry leader in case management -- has a new Workforce Safety software solution to help organizations easily track and respond to incidents. Appian Workforce Safety unifies contact tracing and incident case management with employee health monitoring, COVID testing, and facility and visitor management into a single response hub. Employee health information stays private and secure, since it's built on the HIPAA-compliant and HITRUST-certified Appian Cloud.

Watch the demo to see why leading companies such as Volkswagen Group of America, Garmin, and Univision trust Appian to help them reopen and stay open safely.