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Why Companies Should Account for Testing Inaccuracies in their Return-to-Work Plan

As COVID-19 cases hit record peaks, testing has become the first line of defense for many communities and businesses. To protect their populations, many national health programs have implemented widespread testing to better track and trace the spread of the virus. The goal of widespread testing is to reduce infection rates by identifying symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the current methods of testing are not a full-proof method of diagnosis. 

Why Are COVID Tests Inaccurate?

Due to the nature of certain medical examinations, patients can produce results that don’t accurately reflect their current health status. For instance, COVID-19 test results are subject to false positives and false negatives. Both of these are dangerous.

In the case of COVID-19, a false positive refers to a patient who has been improperly diagnosed as a carrier of the virus when, in reality, they are not. This sort of diagnosis can be extremely detrimental to a person’s well-being. Thinking that you are COVID-positive when you actually are not, can induce a serious amount of unnecessary stress. These types of results are sometimes controllable consequences based on the examiner’s intentions. When performing mammograms, false positives arise due to the test’s preference for increased sensitivity. This is because you are trying to find unhealthy afflictions in an otherwise healthy person. The drawback of increased sensitivity is decreased accuracy. The same thing is happening with regard to widespread COVID-19 testing.

What Are the Consequences of Inaccurate Testing?

A false positive, besides inflicting mental anguish, is believed by some experts to be a good thing. Having a relatively high false positive rate means more people are listed as COVID-positive than they really are. This could increase the incentive for folks to stay inside, socially distance and follow WHO guidelines. That said, a higher level of cases could incite more panic than productivity. Similarly, the counterpart to the false positive can be extremely problematic.

A false negative means a COVID-positive individual is registered as negative. This can have devastating consequences in terms of infection management and contact tracing. If a person draws a false negative and doesn’t know about it, they could be putting tons of people at risk. All it takes for a few infections to completely compromise a given ‘bubble.’ If the results from widespread tests aren’t completely accurate, how does that affect employers who are trying to reopen their shared workspaces?

How Testing Inaccuracies Affect Employers

The risk of false negatives is not negligible either. If you are not overly cautious as an employer, you could be letting COVID-positive employees into your workspace without the proper restrictions. This lack of attention could seriously jeopardize the health and safety of your staff and customers. Unfortunately, this means you cannot take all test results at face value. You have to assume that everyone is COVID-positive unless they have quarantined for the appropriate amount of time. As grim as this looks, there is a solution.

Return-to-Work Solutions

While testing isn’t 100% accurate, their results should still be monitored; especially for businesses that are looking to reopen their facilities. If an employee tests positively or exhibits coronavirus symptoms, they should stay at home and quarantine for the appropriate amount of time. By utilizing a digital health passport, companies can securely manage the health statuses of their employees beyond that of widespread testing.

Applications like COVID PreCheck allow employers to combine the benefits of a digital health passport with a physician-supported portal. Similarly, COVID PreCheck has developed a physician portal to review and verify the results of your COVID-19 test results. This improves the legitimacy of your results, and addresses some of the pitfalls created by inaccurate testing.

Most health passports will only be able to display your current COVID-19 status. But with COVID PreCheck, you can use a customized QR code to privately communicate both your COVID-19 and vaccination status to building security. Privacy is imperative when it comes to employee health management. This sentiment is reinforced by the accuracy of certain lateral flow and PCR tests. Why announce employee health updates when their test results may be incorrect?

To learn more about COVID PreCheck, its services, and applications, visit the COVID PreCheck website. From there, you can download the app or sign up for a free trial. For further questions, book a free consultation with one of our team members today.