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Compliant COVID-19 Testing Options for Employers

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As mentioned in our previous blog there are a variety of testing options available for employers to comply with the vaccine and testing mandate requirements. In this blog, we will take a deep dive into each approach to help you identify the best testing option for your organization. We will also show how ReturnSafe supports your testing program and enables administrators to manage weekly testing requirements at scale.

Although for weekly testing, the onus is not on employers to create a testing program, it is still the employers responsibility to track this data. If employees are left on their own to select tests, it can become burdensome for HR to track test results from different providers. Providing one or two options for all employees enables consistent and cohesive compliance with the testing requirements. 

Which testing option is right for you?

The right testing option for your organization depends on a variety of factors including your company’s budget, number of employees, employee density, accuracy objective, preferred test type (PCR vs, Antigen, etc), and preferred method of test administration (e.g. at home, at office, at POC facility).

Here are a few key questions to consider when designing your testing program. 

  • How does the employee acquire the test?

Employers should consider how easily accessible each test option is. Employers can access tests via several methods, they can buy Over-the-Counter (OTC) tests online or in store and ship them to employees, have employees get tested at Point-of-Care (POC) facilities, or purchase tests at bulk and provide them to employees at work. However, there are pros and cons to each option. For example, it may be difficult for employees to travel to get a COVID-19 test versus being shipped a test or getting tested at work. 

  • How is the test administered?

Tests can be self-administered or administered by a proctor. If you choose a test that is self-administered, then it cannot be self-read (see next question). A proctor can be a teleheath professional, a medical professional or a staff member in the employer organization. Both the administration and result reading processes are vulnerable to user error which can be aided by employers providing clear instructional materials and support for employees.

  • How is the test result read?

Test results are read by a lab (e.g., PCR tests), self read by the employee taking the test, or by a proctor observing the test results. The ETS vaccine and testing mandate requires that a test cannot be both self-read and self-administered. If the results are self-read, then the test needs to be administered by a proctor and vice versa.

  • How can you track and store the test results as required by the ETS and other vaccine and testing mandates?

Before answering this question employers must first decide the recordkeeping system they are using to comply with vaccine and testing mandates. This system has to be secure as it is storing employee health information and uploading test results should be simple and straightforward. ReturnSafe is a HIPAA compliant test tracking solution. Through our  platform, employee test results can be sent via photo upload, .csv, or through API integrations with the testing solution. 

Below we have listed each compliant COVID-19 testing solution, evaluating their benefits and drawbacks.

Option 1: Use a test that is virtually proctored and digitally read

Currently the only testing option that provides these services is the BD Veritor At Home Digital Test Kit.  It is an OTC Antigen Test. ReturnSafe can integrate with BD so employees send their test results directly to our platform. 

Pros

  • No proctor is needed, the results are digitally read via a mobile application
  • Cost effective – the test comes in a package of 2 for $26, making it $13 for each test
  • Get results quickly – within 15 min
  • Tests are easily accessible to order on Amazon

Cons

  • Potential for user error on sample collection, training or easily accessible informational materials can ease this

Option 2: On-Site Proctoring of OTC tests

Employers can choose a proctor who will aid in administering and reading test results at the office before employees enter. Employees and the proctor can sign off on the test result for verification. 

Pros

  • Cost effective, any affordable OTC test can be used for this method (Lucira Check It COVID-19 Test Kit, Abbot BinaxNow, Quidel QuickVue, CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Test)
  • Tests are easily accessible at the office, reducing the burden on the employee
  • Get results quickly – within 15 min
  • Employers can ensure everyone entering the office has received a negative test result

Cons

  • Employers need to have a proctor who dedicates time to this process, and employees will have to dedicate time either during or before work for this process
  • It could be uncomfortable for employees to see other employees swab their noses
  • Additional cost for Proctor (approximately $50/hr for a proctor). Our Partner Meenta, can set up proctoring services for you. 

Proctor Test

Option 3: Use an OTC Antigen Test with Proctored Solution at home

One option is the Abbott Labs BinaxNow which can be used in tandem with a proctored solution – such as a video proctoring process. With ReturnSafe, employers can offer at home tests which employees can order directly through our solution. 

Pros

  • Video proctoring ensures the tests comply with ETS regulations
  • At home tests can be easily ordered by or shipped to employees

Cons

  • Video proctoring is costly and can easily become a difficult process to manage for employees 

Option 4: Testing at a Point of Care (POC) Facility

There are many external testing providers including well-known larger organizations like CVS and Walgreens.  

Pros

  • No concerns of employee testing administration or result verification errors
  • You can use either PCR or Antigen tests

Cons

  • Tests are costly – can cost between $120 and $180 dollars per test
  • Employees will have to take time outside of work to travel to the facility and take the test

Option 5: OTC PCR test with Results from Mail-in Test

Amazon has a PCR testing kit where employees can submit and receive results within 24 hours of the sample arriving at their lab.

Pros

  • The test result is verified by a lab
  • PCR is gold standard in test quality and accuracy

Cons

  • More expensive and longer test turnaround time than Antigen testing options

Now that we’ve reviewed each option it is now up to you and your team to decide which tests are best for your organization. However, complying with the ETS and other vaccine and testing mandate requirements does not end here. Employers will have to identify the unvaccinated employees who will require testing and keep a record of their weekly test results. 

How can employers meet the test tracking requirements? The next section of our blog will focus on this.

Meeting OSHA’s testing requirements at scale

 Under OSHA’s ETS HR will need to do the following of  

  • Keep track of employees weekly test results
  • Ensure employees utilize tests that are not both read and self administered 
  • Identify positive cases and immediately remove them from the building 
  • Manage unvaccinated employees 90 day testing hold if they were diagnosed as positive for COVID-19

Managing 1000s of employees’ data on spreadsheets when their testing status and results are changing on a constant basis places a great burden on your team. Additionally, the employee health records need to be stored in a secure database. ReturnSafe’s digital test tracking solution makes it easy for HR to comply with OSHA’s ETS requirements.

Test results can easily be uploaded into our platform in one of three ways: uploading a test result document, a .csv, or an API integration with a testing solution. 

See our test tracking solution in action! 

The ReturnSafe Command Center has powerful reporting capabilities which help administrators get the information necessary to comply with state, local, and federal regulations. Employers can identify employees who need to get tested and monitor their testing status through the Command Center.

Test Management

Stay ahead of positive cases with Case Manager

With Case Manager, employers can immediately identify who has tested positive for COVID-19 and remove them from the workplace as well as exclude them from weekly testing for 90 days, depending on company policy, per the ETS requirements. They can also see potential and cleared COVID-19 cases.

Case Manager Contact Notification

Coming soon!

Enhanced reporting capabilities to make it even easier for employers to manage compliance with vaccine and testing mandates.. We are working on features that allow administrators to generate custom reports across multiple data points in the system including vaccine, testing, and screening with actions like filtering, bulk notifications and more! 

COVID-19 Testing Solutions for Employers 

The chart below breaks down the testing options available for employers to purchase now.

Solution Test Type Tests  Estimated Cost Results Time ReturnSafe Integration
At office proctored by HR OTC Antigen BinaxNow, CareStart, Quidel $23.99 for 2 tests 15 minutes Results image upload
At home proctored via Telehealth OTC Antigen  BinaxNow $69.99 for 2 tests 15 minutes Results image upload
At home digitally read  OTC Antigen BD Veritor at Home $23.99 for 2 tests 15 minutes Results electronically integrated 
At POC, individual program (e.g. CVS) Antigen or PCR NA $100 – 150 Antigen 15 minutes

PCR 24 hours

Results image upload
At POC (or onsite) company Lab program  Antigen or PCR  NA $$$ Antigen 15 minutes

PCR 24 hours

Results programmatic import via CSV

 

How do I get these tests?

ReturnSafe now has features available to support employees ordering tests directly from our app. Contact us to learn more! 

Employers can purchase COVID-19 tests via the links provided below. If you need a solution to securely record employee test results, please schedule a meeting with our team. They can get you up and running with an test tracking solution in as little as a day.

COVID-19 PCR Test Collection Kit

Lucira Check IT Rapid PCR Test

QUIDEL QUICKVUE Antigen Test

BINAXNOW Rapid Antigen Test

BD Veritor at-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit

Book a demo to learn more about our testing solution!