In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling blocking the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate for private companies, the electronic health record vendor athenahealth has sought to clarify its own rules for employees.
“Our current policy includes testing options and requirement for vaccination for some employees, based on job function,” athenahealth representatives told Healthcare IT News this week.
That policy is not based on office location.
In response to follow-up inquiries about how many employees, and which job functions, were subject to the mandatory vaccination policy, the representatives characterized the group as “a limited number of employees … including those who travel to interact with clients or prospects.”
“The vast majority of our employees are vaccinated,” said the representatives.
WHY IT MATTERS
The company’s worker vaccination policy has been the subject of some recent confusion, according to local reporting.
The Republican Journal in Waldo County, Maine, where the company has a campus in Belfast, said that some employees had been under the impression that vaccination by April 1 was mandatory.
However, the employees told the outlet that the company revised this stance via a statement in late January, saying vaccinations were not mandatory for those who don’t interact with clients.
As of Tuesday, 70% of Waldo County residents were considered fully vaccinated – lower than the state rate of 74.58%, but higher than the national percentage.
athenahealth representatives told Healthcare IT News that the current plan is to return to in-person work in June.
For employees who don’t wish to work in person because of the vaccine policy, athenahealth said that it “will provide reasonable accommodations on a case-by-case basis.”
THE LARGER TREND
Other EHR vendors in the industry have taken differing approaches to employee vaccinations and work-from-home options.
In August 2021, Epic announced that all U.S. employees would be required to be fully vaccinated by October 1. Around the same time, it said that employees would need to return to the office nearly full time.
Meanwhile, Cerner announced its own vaccine mandate this past October, along with a hybrid in-person and virtual model for workers. It’s unclear as of yet if the company’s recently announced acquisition by Oracle will affect either policy.
ON THE RECORD
“We continue to evaluate our policy and make decisions based on evolving public health guidance, and legal and business considerations,” said athenahealth representatives.
Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.
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