Health & Safety

Health Screening App vs. Pen and Paper: 5 Key Risks and Differences

September 21, 2020

Since the start of the lockdown, CrowdBlink has been hard at work to make screening and contact tracing really simple. We knew that the logistics of conducting daily health screenings of staff and visitors would pose challenges to organizations, especially if those screenings were done on paper.

What are those challenges, and why is paper not good enough to meet them? Here we break down exactly why essential businesses have been choosing to use CrowdBlink to screen staff since the start of the pandemic, and moreover, why using the alternative — pen and paper — may introduce new risks even as organizations are trying to minimize them.

1. Pen and paper: the opposite of contactless.

The first and most obvious problem with documenting your Covid-19 symptom screenings on paper is the amount of person-to-person contact this process creates. 

Yes, being a digital company means we’ll always have a bone to pick with paper. Nonetheless, we can’t imagine a worse method of screening than having everyone fill out paper forms — especially if you’re trying to minimize contact between people. By using a pen and having stacks of assessments you actually create a high-touch-velocity area, and then funnel all individuals through it.

Say you are the 100th person in line to enter a building. The last thing you want to do is grab that pen, touched by 99 people before you, then linger for a minute filling out a paper form, the edges of which may have also been thumbed by numerous other people so far.

2. Paper provides no easy alert system for failed assessments.

Let’s say someone fails the symptom questionnaire, or the person taking temperatures registers a fever. In that very instance, who is made aware of it? Other than the screener and the person being assessed, nobody.

Now, the person doing screenings is tasked with all of: isolating the individual who failed the assessment, trying to notify other people in the company, securing the location, and minimizing everyone’s risk of exposure.

Of course, if you’re running a small organization, this may not impact you as much. But if you have multiple locations, perhaps hundreds of staff? Every minute that passes with your organization’s “Covid Task Force” unaware about a failed assessment is a minute added to your response time, and an increased risk of exposure for everyone on the premises.

3. Daily paper assessments demand significant storage space.

Thanks to the way that personal computers have transformed work, we often forget just how much paper a modern office used to rely on. If you’re doing Covid-19 screenings manually on paper, you’re about to get a reminder.

Paper takes up a lot of space, its costs quickly add up, and depending on the regulations in your industry and region, you might have to hang onto all of those individual assessments for a while — potentially years to come.

And of course, it’s not just the paper itself. You also have to figure out how you are going to categorize and organize the assessments, who is going to have access to the files and their sensitive information, where you’re going to store all of it, and what you’ll do in the event that you need to conduct contact tracing. 

Which brings us to the next point:

4. Contact tracing using paper is slow, inefficient, and unreliable.

Even if you have a clear system for organizing all those files into folders, actually doing contact tracing with them is still complicated. Somebody has to:

  • Collect all of the relevant assessments.
  • Cross-reference individual names and results of each assessment, and organize the data in a way that is easy to work with.
  • Most likely digitize the relevant assessments anyway.
  • Repeat this for multiple days out, checking who the person with a positive case was in contact with before it was reported.

Not to mention that if you’re doing contact tracing this way, you may be touching contaminated paper.

Compare this to digital reports: the only thing you need to do for detailed contact tracing is set a date range, download a .csv file, and run a search — you are done in a matter of seconds.

In other words, digital contact tracing is instant, doesn’t require anyone to touch potentially contaminated paper files, and gives you the ability to rapidly notify those who were potentially exposed.

5. Pen-and-paper assessments lead to long lines of people.

Dispense hand sanitizer, hand over the form, wait until the individual fills out their name and contact information, check all of the correct boxes, take the temperature, record the temperature, dispense hand sanitizer again, shuffle the individual inside, repeat.

How long does that process take? 30 seconds? One minute? Two?

Digital screening takes 10 seconds — less if your visitors are going through pre-screenings, something you can only effectively accomplish using an app.

Multiply this by even a few dozen people, every single day, and the minutes add up to hours. Pair that with the need to hire someone just to stand at the door and do screenings, add lost productivity time while everyone gets into the building, and you’re looking at a substantial increase in operating costs.

To put it bluntly, what does it cost your organization to spend 30 minutes each day, 10 hours a month — a very conservative estimate depending on the size of your organization — just to do the assessments themselves (not including storage, sorting, or any other administrative requirements)?

Why digital screening is the best way to do Covid-19 health assessments.

A digital solution like Protect lets you avoid the administrative nightmare of having to create and keep paper records of every individual entering your facility for years to come.

This is why essential businesses — from small daycares to large construction projects — have been using CrowdBlink Protect since the start of the pandemic. Simply put, CrowdBlink:

  • Lets you do daily screenings in a completely contactless way. It even enables you to do “pre-screening” — meaning individuals self-assessing before they leave their home — and automatically record that information.
  • Ensures that all of the essential personnel responsible for your Covid response are instantly notified about any failed assessments.
  • Stores encrypted assessment data in the cloud, using bank-grade security measures, for as long as needed, at a fraction of the cost of storing physical paper files, and keeps it all organized for you.
  • Lets authorized individuals conduct contact tracing in a manner of seconds. And for larger organizations with multiple locations, CrowdBlink lets you monitor dashboards that inform you about all of the screening activities at a glance.
  • Lets you screen people into your facility in a matter of seconds.
  • Takes just a few minutes to set up, and does all of this, plus more, for just $49 / month.

If you’re ready to move away from paper and ensure that you are compliant and are keeping all the individuals entering your facility safe with a digital solution, you can get started now, or get in touch with us to learn more.


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