Jenifer BondJuly 28, 2020

Jumpstart Your Contact Tracing Program with Automation

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Contact Tracing - the process of identifying people who have an infectious disease and those they have come into contact with and then working with each group to interrupt the ongoing spread - is a hot topic these days as we all navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. All you need to do is tune into any major news outlet to see this topic being discussed as economies across the world begin to reopen. It’s a critical tool that has the attention of healthcare agencies, local and national governments, higher educational institutions, and large corporations working to protect citizens, students and employees.

At the time of writing this blog, more than 14 million people across the globe have tested positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately, there have been more than 600,000 deaths attributed to the disease. The sheer numbers alone have put Contact Tracing programs behind the eight ball.

Contact Tracing has been implemented in public health programs for decades - like the H1N1 influenza breakout in 2009 - to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. This includes asking people with COVID-19 to isolate and their close contacts to quarantine. Healthcare agencies, local and national governments, higher educational institutions, and large corporations need to deploy Contact Tracing programs NOW if they have not done so already, and automation will be key for catching up with communities, constituents, students, and employees.

Here are two crucial ways automation helps ramp contact tracing initiatives.

Proactive Notification

To do contact tracing well, it takes thorough, detective-like work done by contact tracers to ask the right questions, provide the right guidance, and map affected individuals and their contacts to hotspots. The first step in this process is using automation to quickly and efficiently connect with individuals. Proactive Notification can help agencies, organizations, and educational institutions quickly connect with people and map them to hotspot breakouts. The solution automatically reaches out to individuals or groups with optional response tracking, text interaction, and auto-forms to capture critical information that helps better inform next steps.

Interaction through text message has become one of the most popular uses of the mobile phone, with text messages having close to a 100% open rate (compared to email, which is in the 20% to 30% range).  SMS text chats can also convert expensive live phone calls to automated interactions that cost only pennies per session. Avaya’s proactive notification solution can leverage multiple different channels such as text, voice calls, and email to ensure that timely critical responses for Contact Tracing are obtained, regardless of the end user’s preferred method of communication. Establishing that first point of contact can also open the door for necessary person-to-person discussions that need to happen as part of Contact Tracing. With most text messages being opened and read within three seconds of being received, proactive notification can be one of the most powerful tools in our fight against the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19. When time is of the essence and live agents are overloaded and overwhelmed with calls, why would you not use automated proactive notification?

Virtual Agents Powered by Artificial Intelligence

Continuing this thought, AI virtual agents - which can deliver intuitive, AI-based engagement with natural language capabilities - can help significantly relieve live agents while complementing the Contact Tracing process. The solution can act as a frontline defense for commonly asked questions and work with infected people and their close contacts during the ongoing monitoring and management process. This can be in the form of referrals for testing, checking in on symptom monitoring, and connecting individuals to resources to support self-quarantine.

According to Blair Pleasant, President & Principal Analyst, COMMfusion, “Contact tracing is an essential tool in combatting the COVID-19 crisis, but finding and training the right type of individuals to do this job can be challenging. Using Virtual Agents can literally save lives, as these agents can provide information to individuals and their contacts, helping to reduce the risk of further exposure.” She added, “Virtual agents can assist individuals regardless of language, time of day, or location, while providing the confidentiality and privacy required in these situations.”

Avaya’s AI Virtual Agent solution is rapidly deployable  in the US and Canada, and can help agencies, organizations, and educational institutions manage the huge increase in their number of inquiries by providing immediate answers 24x7 to callers with questions regarding COVID-19, reducing wait times for customers while freeing up live agents to deal with more complex interactions. The solution can respond to questions and deliver ongoing care over a broad range of channels including voice, chat, email, and multimedia messaging (i.e. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp). By and large, virtual, AI-powered contact center support agents are a huge trend we can expect to continue growing. According to Gartner, 25% of customer service operations are using virtual customer assistants like AI virtual agents in 2020 compared to less than 2% in 2017.

Leverage Automation to Speed up COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Economies across the globe are beginning to reopen, employees are returning to the office, and very soon students will be back on campuses. It’s critical for government agencies, healthcare organizations, education institutions, and corporations to initiate Contact Tracing programs to help prevent further spread - and they should be jumpstarting their efforts using automation.

Quickly build Contact Tracing heat maps by reaching out to affected individuals using automated Proactive Notifications in the form of voice, bi-directional text-messaging, email, or a combination of all. Virtual Agents powered by AI can make the contact process effortless for affected individuals and their close contacts while freeing your contact tracers to deliver the care and support to those who need it most.

Avaya can help you deploy your Contact Tracing solution within days – either as an over-the-top application or with the Avaya software you may already have in place.

Let’s get started.

Jumpstart Your Contact Tracing Program with Automation

Jenifer Bond

Jenifer is the Area Sales Leader, US SLED (State, local and education government agencies) at Avaya. She is an accomplished, high energy sales leader with over 20 years of proven success. Jenifer has been consistently recognized for exceeding sales goals with a customer centric approach. She has a passion for building high performance sales teams.   

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