Health System Manages Staff COVID-19 Exposure and Symptom Tracking
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, a patient later diagnosed with COVID-19 twice visited the emergency department at a large hospital in the Northwest, in addition to visiting specialty and ambulatory clinics in the health system’s network. Only after the patient was admitted to the hospital and tested positive on the second ED visit was the coronavirus outbreak confirmed.
Potential exposure to the pandemic virus required the health system to alert the 380 staff who had contact with the patient prior to diagnosis. These staff members spanned multiple facilities, and shifts, and served in roles as varied as clinicians, transportation and environmental services. Infection control outreach needed to happen quickly to limit the spread of disease.
This scenario soon repeated with other patients who came to the ED for symptoms unrelated to COVID-19 but who later tested positive. For example, early in the pandemic, a heart patient could be in the hospital for two days before their positive COVID-19 status was known.
“We needed a simple, elegant solution to track our staff and have near real-time information on their COVID-19 status,” explained the IT director at the health system. “We spent a day or two swirling over what tool to use before deciding that LiveProcess was our best choice.”
“LiveProcess saved us hundreds of hours. LiveProcess is really the only tool that could provide the necessary level of automation. It is a life-saving tool.”
Four reasons to choose LiveProcess for tracking staff exposure and health screening
The health system used LiveProcess for many years prior to the pandemic, primarily for staffing. About 10 times a day, the staffing group sends requests using LiveProcess. Replacing one-to-one texting and paging, the LiveProcess communication and collaboration platform enables the health system to offer overtime to nurses before hiring agency nurses to fill in. The health system also uses LiveProcess to communicate and coordinate during IT outages and extreme weather, and to mobilize a quick response to disruptive events and security risks. “It’s a pretty useful tool for lots of people,” observed the director.
With LiveProcess a hospital system can:
1. Reach anyone or any group with confidence with accurate, up-to-date contact information
The ongoing use of LiveProcess for staffing made it the best tool to communicate with staff about their COVID-19 exposure and symptoms. Every staff member who enables or fulfills care is in the LiveProcess database, which is a kept current with the Automated Contact Self-Maintenance feature.
“LiveProcess is the source of truth when it comes to contact accuracy,” the director explained. “That’s where we have up-to-date information for everyone’s contact details, including their smartphones so they can receive a text.”
2. Alert everyone of exposure risk within minutes to contain viral spread across the health system
The ability to reach hundreds of staff quickly is another reason the health system chose LiveProcess for this situation. Every minute that a COVID-positive staff member unknowingly spread the virus could harm other staff and patients. With so many exposed staff, the risk of a serious outbreak was high, and time of the essence.
“Being able to notify 500 people in a shot was wonderful. There’s no way we could have done that in a more elegant way than with LiveProcess,” said the director. The alternative was impractical — having patient service reps calling every exposed staff member. Automated notifications saved time and effort — and prevented greater exposure.
3. Automate employee health screening and know, with certainty, who received the critical inquiry
Sending notifications is only half the communications battle, however. The health system also needed to get a response from each person contacted, to confirm that they had received the exposure notice and to screen for symptoms. LiveProcess is built for two-way coordination: employees receive an exposure notification along with a choice of response options about symptoms, so they can reply easily with one touch. A health system can feed responses automatically into a healthcare dashboard to create widespread situational awareness about employee health across an organization.
4. Ensure privacy and reduce stress by protecting sensitive information
Concern for privacy is the fourth reason the health system chose LiveProcess. The director wanted to ensure the hospital handled staff exposure and symptom data in a manner that would minimize stress and keep the focus on facts to reduce gossip and speculation.
“It gave me peace of mind to know that their privacy was protected,” explained the director. The LiveProcess team worked to quickly develop and implement a solution for the health system to isolate the data about exposure and screening from the more widely accessible staffing notification data.
Hundreds of hours saved, thousands of patients and staff protected
The need to share important information and act on it quickly is an essential element of successful hospital operations, and fast communication and coordination takes on an extreme urgency for the health system faced with a COVID-19 outbreak.
It would take a team of people dedicated to phoning hundreds of people every day to do this kind of contact tracing and health screening without LiveProcess. “Calling each person on the phone, calling again if we can’t leave a message, and then trying to get feedback from them,” was not feasible. The director concluded, “LiveProcess saved us hundreds of hours. LiveProcess is really the only tool that could provide the necessary level of automation. It is a life-saving tool.”
With the LiveProcess-sourced data along with other data sources, the health system leadership sees at a glance how many staff are positive or symptomatic, at home or in quarantine. “It’s amazing. The information is in near real-time,” declared the director. As a result, the health system made and continues to make timely intervention plans and control COVID-19 infection for the safety of thousands of staff and patients.
“At the start of outbreak, we were in a state of emergency,” observed the director, “and LiveProcess did much to support our organization in a time of great need. LiveProcess went above and beyond.”