Bluetooth cards and in-house contact tracing: What post-Covid corporate access might look like
Marcus Driller, vice president of corporate at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, has been doing what many of us today can only dream of: meeting people face to face.
The company, based in Auckland, New Zealand, began holding in-person investor meetings again in early 2021, offering a view on how things might work for the rest of the world as vaccines hopefully get a grip on Covid-19.
There’s currently no community transmission of Covid-19 in New Zealand, allowing for something much closer to the ‘old normal’ – and hopefully the ‘new normal’, too – than in many other places. And while borders remain closed, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently saying they were likely to stay shut until the end of the year, some meetings with domestic investors have restarted at the company’s Auckland headquarters.
But Driller says the company is conscious of the role it is playing in the global fight against Covid-19 and ‘doesn’t want to be complacent’. ‘We’re still taking precautions even though we don’t have community transmission,’ he tells IR Magazine.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare is the leading provider of two key respiratory therapies used to treat Covid-19 around the world. It is the most valuable company on the New Zealand Stock Exchange, and in November announced a record half-year: net profit for the six months to September 2020 was up 86 percent as demand for its hardware surged. Because of its role in producing devices that treat Covid-19, however, the company is very conscious of the fact that nothing can stop production.
‘So we have a number of processes in place,’ says Driller. ‘We have Bluetooth tracking cards that we use. Anyone who comes on site, any contractors or visitors – including investors – are issued with a card.’
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has issued its 4,000 New Zealand staff with the credit card-sized trackers, which they wear on their lanyards or in their pocket. The cards don’t track where a person goes but do record when they come into close contact with another card.
The company also has its own in-house contact-tracing team and the two systems combined mean that if there is a positive case of Covid-19, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare will know exactly who has been in contact with the infected person.
Since the introduction of the cards, Driller has been able to meet with investors at the company’s headquarters and he says Fisher & Paykel Healthcare ‘is sort of leading the way in New Zealand’. But while the track-and-trace system might be allowing corporate access to return to some sort of normal, it is really about keeping production going.
‘I guess we’ve taken that extra step here because if we can’t keep manufacturing, then a number of patients in hospitals around the world don’t get treated,’ says Driller. ‘So it is absolutely crucial that we do everything we can to make sure we can continue supply.’