Simon HarrisonJune 18, 2020

COVID-19 Contact Tracing: Why It’s Important, and How to Do it Right

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The nature of the COVID-19 virus has created a vicious cycle that health systems, as well as state and local agencies, need to get ahead of by proactively engaging with infected individuals or those who have possibly come in contact with them.  As our world seems to inch toward a sense of (new) normalcy, there is evidence we have not yet beaten the pandemic.  As more countries and cities open up and social distancing bans are lifted, some reports show pockets of outbreaks and increases in new infections in the U.S. are up anywhere from 93% to 126% in early June. Contact Tracing, the concept of tracing and monitoring contacts of infected people, is something we rarely heard prior to the pandemic.  But now it has become critically important in our society and Avaya is working to support organizations in planning and implementing their programs.  Contract Tracing from Avaya enables organizations to act quickly and effectively with automation and AI around patient/contact identification and communications, providing a structure to start creating COVID-19 infection maps at high speed and scale.

Why Contact Tracing is Important

Contact Tracing helps keep the population safe while getting care for those who need it by tracing them through the COVID-19 recovery process. Staying in contact with a person as their symptoms develop and helping direct them to hospital care if needed. Contact Tracing can also help organizations reach out to close contacts - or even passerby - of an infected person to inform them to get tested. For example, if a person was at a small graduation party over the weekend and was later found to test positive for COVID-19, people within a certain proximity of that individual traced back to the date and timeframe in question would be informed of the encounter with suggested next steps (identified using the same technology that enables us to share files or photos with nearby smart devices using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi).

The Five Challenges of COVID-19 Contact Tracing

There are five big challenges companies currently face with contact tracing:

  1. Volume: difficulty in handling huge increases in inbound call volume
  2. Time: time to hire, train and enable contact tracers (employees responsible for communicating with those infected or possibly infected) to do their job effectively
  3. Knowledge: specialized and often complex scenarios that require specific knowledge, as well as the need to stay on top of constantly changing information and advice
  4. Risk: impact on health and safety of citizens; concerns over citizen and data privacy (ensuring compliance with rules and regulations)
  5. Cost: limited budgets for IT spend; significant manpower costs

Organizations must act with a degree of urgency to begin creating COVID-19 infection maps while overcoming these challenges. Most are throwing traditional decision-making out the window for anything that will help them move fast and efficiently to prevent continued spread, but there needs to be structure around people, processes, and governance.

Contact Tracing from Avaya: The Difference

Contact Tracing from Avaya simplifies, enhances, and automates Contact Tracing across multiple digital channels (voice, SMS/MMS, email, Web chat) to maximize care and operational performance, with the power and versatility of a true cloud solution. Organizations can:

  • Quickly and effectively track, monitor, and notify contacts of potential exposure to COVID-19
  • Make it easy for contact tracers to automate processes and provide best actions, regardless of skillset or knowledge
  • Scale and move with the speed, agility, and flexibility needed to effectively manage risk
  • Pay only for what is needed and reduce IT burdens with Avaya OneCloud

Capabilities of Contact Tracing from Avaya include:

  • Automated Outbound Notification that initiates outreach, provides notifications and manages responses.
  • Automated AI Virtual Agent that engages with contacts using their preferred language and digital channel (voice, SMS/MMS, etc.)
  • AI-driven, real-time Sentiment Analysis that helps assess the conversation and divert calls if necessary
  • Live Monitoring for supervisors to listen to conversations and interrupt if needed to ensure compliance, quality of communications/service experience, etc.
  • Compliance enhanced with call and screen recording and quality management
  • Browser-based desktop that enables tracer to use soft client
  • Real-time and historical reporting identifies improvement opportunities; agent coaching improves skills
  • Skills-based routing for voice and digital channels directs the customer to the best equipped agent
  • Auto Forms enables contacts to enter information by voice or text (creating short or no wait times, with customers being able to input information through automated forms using their preferred communication channel)
  • Voice-to-text transcription records details for later review or for automated analytics
  • Proactively outreach to traced contacts with relevant information, guidance, up-to-date information, etc.

Put Contact Tracing from Avaya to Work

Just as Avaya worked early on in the pandemic to support thousands of companies and millions of workers and contact center agents minimize the disruption of their work and productivity during a global lockdown, so are we supporting them with the tools they need to do effective contact tracing and monitoring.  Our goal is to help customers effectively track, monitor, and notify contacts of potential exposure, quickly determine possible infections and provide best actions, use automation to manage large volumes of contacts and reduce time-consuming manual processes, and make each conversation the best it can be with better risk management by using machine learning to deliver real-time prompts and suggestions to agents.  We’ll continue to share learnings and best practices on how businesses are doing contract tracing right in a series of blog updates in the following weeks.  Learn more about Contact Tracing from Avaya.

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Simon Harrison

Simon Harrison is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, leading the global marketing function to engage new and existing customers and partners, drive adoption of the company’s software solutions and support Avaya as the leading player in a dynamic digital communications market. 

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