Two Tennessee startups partner to help local organizations safely reopen during pandemic

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Ruth Ann Buckner opens a door during a shift at Community Pie on Thursday, May 28, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Studies have shown preventing the spread of COVID-19 is significantly more effective when masks are worn by everyone who goes out into public areas.

Two Tennessee startup companies have formed a partnership to aid businesses, schools and churches to safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic through a comprehensive set of testing, monitoring and protective equipment and programs.

The Chattanooga-based Base Camp Health is joining with RxGenomix in Franklin, Tennessee, to provide computer apps, testing capability and personal protective equipment for organizations reopening or expanding their operations while trying to keep employees, customers and students safe from the COVID-19 virus.

"As communities begin to bring individuals back to their places of work, learning, and worship, it is important for employers and institutions to properly mitigate risks," said Leigh McCormack, a data scientist who founded Base Camp as a woman-led health care analytics platform in 2018 as part of the Transparency Health portfolio.

New Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines require nearly all employers to determine if employees who test positive for COVID-19 contracted it in the workplace and, if so, record the illness to OSHA. McCormack said proactive population-level testing allows employers to understand, in near real time, what their levels of COVID-19 exposure are within the workforce and give managers tools to react faster, and take necessary action to slow disease transmission.

The partnership will immediately offer diagnostic COVID-19 testing and SARS CoV-2 antibody testing, and officials said they hope to soon offer a breakthrough point-of-care test that can be completed within five minutes without the need to send a sample to a lab.

Basecamp has already created a new app known as Ascend to help screen those coming to work each day by having each person answer a few questions in a web-based application about their health on their smartphone, tablet or laptop computer.

"We have been overwhelmed by the response since the launch of Ascend last month and could not be more excited to partner with RxGenomix to offer an even more comprehensive return-to-work program for our current and future clients, McCormack said. "Working together, we can play an important role in combating COVID-19 and making the adjustment back to work and school as safe and easy as possible."

RxGenomix provides the training, materials, research, analytics, and laboratory support needed for any healthcare provider or employer to implement pharmacogenomic testing. The company's network of pharmacists are able to order testing in all 50 states and consult results through a telehealth engagement. Samples are sent overnight to their U.S. laboratory partners, with results being made available within 36-48 hours.

"As a pharmacist-led organization with existing employer and payer relationships, RxGenomix has considerable clinical expertise and an established, integrated and reliable network of genetic laboratories that, when COVID-19 emerged, uniquely positioned us well to support an offering to help America return to work safely," said Blake Keller, a pharmacist and chief operating officer for RxGenomix.

The companies' return-to-work programs include planning and communication, daily monitoring and screening, proactive testing, health care provider support, and access to masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment.