The first day of Syawal this year will always be remembered for the rest of our lives.
It was the only day that Malaysians — a maximum of 20 persons per gathering — were allowed to visit relatives due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has somehow halted almost everything globally.
The rest of the days? Well, thanks to the easing of restrictions under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) that replaced the earlier MCO, people are now moving about a bit more.
Shopping malls are slowly re-awakened, while teh tarik sessions are reconvening at mamak restaurants — as long as the standard operating procedures are observed, that is.
The steps are simple. Get your body temperature measured, write down your contact number, slap on a bit of the sanitiser onto your palm and you’re good to go.
This would ensure that if anyone has been tested positive, the premise owners are able to do contact tracing on the visitors or customers who were around during the day.
Since we have been told not to shake our hands as the virus might be transmitted among each of us, writing using the same pen might be a bad idea.
There are so many people who come in and out of the shops and you don’t know if anyone of them is a Covid-19 carrier.
After all, the virus is able to survive longer on certain surfaces. For instance, it could survive on plastic surfaces for two to three days. Some coronavirus strains are only able to survive up to a few minutes, while others can stay up to five days.
Either way, just be extra cautious about where your hands have been, and what you’ve touched.
Contactless Contact Tracing
With the help of mobile technology, a few companies have been making contact tracing safer and more efficient.
One good example is customer relationship management company Mulah Rewards which caters to food and beverage (F&B) operators.
Unlike other solutions that have been recently announced in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the system is not an app, but a web-based registry which does not require any installation.
Restaurants just need to print out the QR code on a piece of paper to be displayed at the entrance of the premises.
Those who would want to dine-in would have to scan the QR code using their smartphones if they want to check-in. They are then required to enter their necessary personal details.
If they visit the same restaurant again, customers only need to add contact information and temperature readings.
The free contactless web-based solution, called Stamp & Go, is the result of a collaboration between digital solutions provider HealthMetrics Sdn Bhd and software development company InfinitiLab.
The solution enables businesses to record information of each person who enters their premises which could be used to track and trace the customers’ movements.
“We are glad that businesses are able to reopen, but at the same time, it is vital for Malaysians to remain vigilant, continue practising safe social-distancing habits and maintain robust health and sanitisation practices,” said HealthMetrics CEO Alvin Yuan.
With the launch of the system, Yuan hopes to support businesses in maintaining strict standards, especially those in the F&B and service industries.
“As business owners and customers navigate the new guidelines put in place by the National Security Council, Stamp & Go will be useful in streamlining contact tracing through contactless methods,” Yuan said.
The solution is also part of HealthMetrics’ corporate social responsibility initiative to assist its clients. HealthMetrics has also managed to get a huge influx of non-clients wanting to use the solution for their businesses.
“As a result, we decided to make it available for all businesses in any industry to ease tracking of movement from visitors to their premises, both digitally and securely.
“In fact, we’re seeing the Stamp & Go solution being used by clinics, as well as companies recording their employees’ entries at the workplace,” Yuan said.
The system has so far been well-received, with more than 300 businesses, primarily in the F&B, corporate and retail sectors, having been using it.
“Initially, we expected only larger shops or chains to be the users of our Stamp & Go solution, but we also see owners of kopitiam or food courts utilising this solution as we’ve made it available in the Malay, English, Chinese and Tamil languages,” Yuan said.
He added that there have been valid concerns regarding the mishandling of the customers’ information and details that are required by the contact tracing system.
“As such, the Stamp & Go solution will be ensuring privacy protection by masking the customers’ personal data.
“In other words, the customers’ personal information will not be shared with the businesses that are using the Stamp & Go solution and the businesses will only be able to see a record of the timestamp on their dashboard,” he said.
Yuan also explained that as part of the RMCO requirements, the customer’s personal information might only be shared to health authorities if they needed the information to contact and trace potential Covid-19 cases.
“We’ve also included a strict data retention policy for all customer data which stipulates that all data will be purged and removed from the database 60 days after the visit date of the customer.”
HealthMetrics was established in 2015 with the vision to revolutionise the healthcare management system for organisations. It is something that has stayed the same for the past 20 years.
“We noticed that there’s a gap in employee healthcare management among corporates where they mostly still practise the tedious, mundane and repetitive task of filing paperwork for claims and clinics’ billing,” Yuan explained.
Over the years, HealthMetrics has also managed to educate and raise awareness among corporates that digitalisation and automation are the keys for businesses to be more efficient in their operations.
They would also provide great employee experience, including with the Human Resources (HR) department, which is always overlooked and used to be classified as cost- centres as opposed to revenue generators.
“We are glad that the conversation has changed tremendously since then and the HR department is deemed as a strategic piece in the growth of a company,” he said.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, HealthMetrics’ message of digitalisation has become even more apparent as most companies and businesses are forced to look into digital measures to drive greater efficiency of their human capital.
To date, the company manages 180,000 users from more than 1,500 corporations across Malaysia.
“As we continue to gain positive traction in the market, we are seeing larger companies coming on board such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, 7-Eleven, Family Mart, Star Media Group & MR DIY,” Yuan said.
Although Yuan’s team does not discriminate against smaller companies, companies with larger headcount and looking to reduce cost from annual upfront insurance premiums often see more significant benefits in using a solution like HealthMetrics.
The system not only automates the whole process, but also the pay-per-use model.
Tackling Fake MCs
A study by JobStreet found that at least 26% of Malaysians have admitted to faking their medical certificates (MC) in order to get some time off from work. On the other hand, 57% of employers claim to have staff who handed them fake MCs before.
What’s more worrying is that employees are able to purchase fake MCs from real doctors via WhatsApp.
The MCs only cost between RM3 and RM30, and can be delivered to one’s doorstep the next day. Customers can select the sickness of their choice as well.
“We also observed a high tendency for abuse, especially when employees make forged claims when submitting it manually, and also fake MCs that are readily available online,” Yuan said.
The HealthMetrics system also enables companies and organisations to monitor and track employees’ claims, health-seeking behaviour and their MCs.
“Prior studies by Malaysian Digest reported that one in four employees have faked a medical claim. This resulted in RM2.9 billion in combined losses for Malaysian companies, both in monetary and productivity losses,” Yuan said.
Although the study was conducted back in 2015, Yuan believes that there’s not much change in the statistics.
Companies using HealthMetrics would receive digital MCs directly in real time from HealthMetrics’ healthcare partners who are all registered healthcare practitioners with valid practising certificates.
“These digital MCs are delivered real-time to supervisors which can be further accessed via the portal for more detailed information. Besides that, HR personnel do not need to keep track of MCs manually as our platform captures this information digitally and automatically,” Yuan added.
This way, both HR and employees are able to keep track of the number of MC days taken by a particular employee and also the remaining MC days available to the employees.
“The platform also provides real-time data analytics such as most MC days taken by the employees on a specific day, such as on Monday or after a public holiday, down to the specific employee,” said Yuan.
URTI Cases — Popular Reason for Clinic Visits
HealthMetrics has been monitoring the clinic visitation before and during the MCO, Conditional MCO and RMCO periods to study the pattern and understand employees’ behaviour.
“Prior to the MCO, there was a noticeably higher volume of visits by our corporate users to the healthcare providers. Before the MCO, we also saw an increased amount of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) cases,” Yuan said.
URTI cases make up to 47% of overall employee visits to clinics before and during the MCO period.
“This also coincides with the seasonal influenza outbreak, where we have seen clinics running out of influenza vaccinations.”
Unfortunately, both the URTI and Covid-19 infections exhibit similar flu-like symptoms and it may be tricky to identify what caused the symptoms without screening specifically for it.
“As such, it is advisable for companies to have annual influenza vaccinations to prevent employees from getting infected with influenza. In the case of the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccinated employees are less likely to be infected with influenza, which in this case makes it easier to identify potential Covid-19 infection,” Yuan said.
There has been a significant reduction in visitations to healthcare providers of about 30%, after taking into account the rising volume in the months prior to the MCO.
One of the reasons behind the decrease of visits could be discouragement or prevention of patients from visiting their healthcare providers during the lockdown.
Another reason could be that the patients may fear seeking treatment due to potential risks or social distancing may have broken the chain of infection at the workplace.
To ensure the safety and wellbeing of the employees during this pandemic, HealthMetrics has recently partnered Doc2Us to enable teleconsultations that will help their users in getting medical advice from certified medical practitioners at the comfort of their home.
Currently, it is only available for HealthMetrics clients under beta-testing. The company is still planning to expand this for their current clients soon.
Covid-19 Testing from Your Home
As part of Malaysia Digital Economy Corp’s #digitalvscovid initiative, HealthMetrics has partnered Qualitas Medical Group on home test kits to help companies cope through the pandemic.
“For Covid-19 on-site or at-home screenings, we are partnering our network of healthcare partners for nationwide coverage and lower pre-negotiated bulk pricing,” said Yuan.
They have also launched a free Covid-19 DocBot which works as a chatbot to help both corporate and public users in doing a self- check if they’re feeling under the weather.
“The DocBot essentially helps ease anxiety and provide more clarity for the patient, as well as answers frequently asked questions on Covid-19, such as does the patient exhibit any symptoms like fever or breathing difficulties, or what the current body temperature of the patient is,” Yuan said.
HealthMetrics’ Covid-19 tests are real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests as it’s the only method that is currently endorsed by the Ministry of Health.
“It’s also the gold standard when it comes to Covid-19 screening, as antibody Rapid Test Kit (RTK) can result in false positives due to the time required for the antibodies to build up in order for the test kit to detect them,” Yuan added.
He also said the antigen RTK might be suitable for use in primary care settings, such as the general practitioner, as it would require a specialised cabinet to store the samples.
“This pandemic has shown us that our solutions and advice during the pandemic crisis provides assurance to our corporate partners. With that, the relationship between HealthMetrics and our customers have grown even stronger than before the pandemic,” Yuan assures.
According to him, the good side of the pandemic is that many corporates have been forced to embrace digital solutions.
Not just the corporate, but even we ourselves used digital solutions to adapt, such as working from home and ordering food via delivery apps.
Yuan said that presents an amazing opportunity for HealthMetrics to shine in the management of corporate healthcare.
“Apart from that, it is business as usual. We will continue to innovate and will continue to introduce more features into our platform. The future is bright for us, and we will continue to pave the way as the pioneer by staying ahead of the curve.”
For more information regarding HealthMetrics, you can check out their website at https://healthmetrics.com/.