New IH & OH Activities & Constraints Post - COVID 19
The recent pandemic has highlighted more than ever the need for EHS software vendors to be agile and flexible. Software vendors like Enterprise Health swiftly responded to firms’ requirements for pandemic response solutions in the wake of the crisis. The vendor launched an embedded telehealth capability in its occupational health and IT platform, enabling users to remotely conduct a video visit with an occupational health expert. Also, they enhanced some of their existing capabilities in response to COVID-19, including their employee monitoring and travel management solutions (see Verdantix Addressing COVID-19 With EHS Technology).
However, the swift response of vendors like Enterprise Health is a telltale sign of changes brewing behind the scenes - a new normal, if you will - in how vendors will have to respond to their clients and the market. This begs the question: what changes are we likely to see in industrial hygiene (IH) and occupational health (OH) in the wake of the pandemic? Verdantix spoke to Jeff Donnell, President of Enterprise Health, and Kinjal Amin, Director of Sales at Enterprise Health to find out.
One thing is for certain, IH and OH have often been overlooked in a hierarchy of EHS solutions, but the recent pandemic has brought them to the forefront of firms’ priorities. Moreso, the crisis underscores the importance of not only IH and OH, but also the supporting IT infrastructure. Health questionnaires and self-certification, respiratory equipment face fit testing and medical record management are a few areas of IH and OH firms now focus on more than ever to help manage the pandemic. Enhancements to the supporting IT infrastructure of these capabilities have taken days and weeks instead of months. This highlights the possibility of a rapid cycle of product development in the future - in the context of developing, testing, and overall iteration of IH and OH solutions. Cross-pollination of ideas between customers of the same vendor also has begun occurring. For instance, Enterprise Health was able to bring different customers who wanted similar but slightly nuanced solutions to a table, explore ideas, and create a single solution that meets the needs of all their customers.
It won’t all be plain sailing, however, there will be new constraints in response to COVID 19. For instance, the pandemic has led to firms tightening their budgets hence software vendors may themselves have to help EHS decision-makers build business cases for their solutions. There is also the issue of privacy, workers may not be keen on giving information about next of kin underlying health conditions, which will aid in determining secondary exposure morbidity and ultimately create a more insightful risk profile for the worker (see Verdantix Eleven Critical Actions To Take For Returning To Work Post COVID-19). Additionally, medical surveillance issues arise - data associated with programmes like hearing conservation of workers who have stayed at home will be incomplete. Would firms have to restart these programmes or continue from where they left? And how would this affect the final analysis of the data from these programmes? These are catalysts for IT enhancements and innovation in the areas of IH and OH.