Contact tracing is key to a safe return to work.
And while it is not a new concept within the public health community (it has been used to track H1N1, Ebola, and so on), it is a now a household term with the onset of COVID-19. Departments of Health, Governors, Mayors, and more have asked their residents to keep a diary of the people and places they have come in contact with so that the state might have an easier time retracing the public’s steps.
“The virus doesn’t take a break,” said Kumar, “which means this process has to be faster and more flexible in order for us to gain ground on the spread and make reopening the state possible.”
Rhode Island moves its testing and contact tracing system to the cloud.
Kumar, Patel, and team transitioned its contact tracing system from an on-premise solution to Salesforce’s Customer 360 for Government. It gives the Rhode Island Department of Health a comprehensive record of each and every COVID-19 case across the state, and allows for a more integrated and adaptable solution to the pandemic. It also is compliant with applicable privacy laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Here’s how it works:
A Rhode Island resident starts experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and they call their healthcare provider. If the patient’s symptoms warrant a test, the physician can log into an online portal built on Community Cloud and Lightning Scheduler, look through available days and times at nearby testing sites, and schedule accordingly. Relevant details, such as symptoms and basic demographics, are captured in a profile-like record in Health Cloud at the time of test-scheduling, allowing the team to potentially have a fuller picture of how positive and negative results are broken down within the community. The system also allows Rhode Islanders to ‘self-schedule’ tests.
Rhode Island is beginning to leverage built-in API capabilities of Salesforce to feed laboratory test results into the system. If the results are positive, they are added to the workflow of Rhode Island Department of Health case investigators, who then follow up with the individual to explain that they need to enter isolation and see if they would be open to participating in the state’s contact tracing effort. For those who are willing, case investigators can sign up the individuals up for automated symptom monitoring which will let the individual know when they are ready to end isolation. This triggers a daily SMS text message containing a survey (sent via a third-party system), which individuals can use to report any changes in symptoms and request services such as housing and food support to help ensure they can succeed with isolation. The results are integrated within Salesforce, and built in logic helps drive the functionality. Every day the list of individuals needing quarantine or isolation support services is provided to RI’s local United Way 211 to help connect the individual with the support they need; efforts are underway to integrate this process electronically.
“The work we do is important only in how much it helps,” said Patel. “It’s easy for technologists to look at this kind of project as 1’s and 0’s, but the resulting impact has meant so much more.”