6 Specific Ways Contact Tracing Helps Contain the Spread of COVID-19
As the nation grapples with the ongoing effects of COVID-19, health experts agree that Contact Tracing - the process of providing support to those who may have been infected through close contact with a patient - is essential as part of a long-term containment strategy. Research shows the general public is also warming to the idea, with 76% of surveyed Americans saying they would be willing to give officials a list of everyone they had recently come into contact with.
Avaya’s Contact Tracing Virtual Leadership Forum, which brought together experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), United States of Care and more addressed six specific ways Contact Tracing helps keep the population safe while getting care for those who need it:
- Automated Communications: Enable automated outbound voice calls, SMS, and email for outreach and follow-up to patients and their close contacts across any device. Christina Muganda, Epidemiologist at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Bureau of Communicable Diseases, stressed the importance of automation as part of a multi-pronged approach. “As we know, one exposure can quickly lead to a cluster or an outbreak if not stopped at some point. Automation is incredibly impactful; the faster that we can reach someone, the fewer exposures are happening.”
- AI Virtual Agents: AI virtual agents can deliver intuitive, AI-based patient contact with natural language capabilities. The solution helps offload live agents with tasks related to notification of potential exposure, referral for testing, symptom monitoring, and connecting to resources to support self-quarantine. The experts agreed this is hugely beneficial as states and local health jurisdictions navigate the challenges of ramping up staffing. For example, the redirection of staff without public health experience might require additional training that AI Virtual Agents don’t need. More staffing is needed to make Contact Tracing work, and AI Virtual Agents can profoundly help.
- Journey mapping: Organizations can view historical traffic patterns and dwell times for employees who have reported testing positive for COVID-19, from the moment they were onsite to departure. This uncovers high-traffic hot zones so businesses can take safety measures such as reconfiguring workspaces and deploying additional cleaning efforts. Journey mapping can also be used to support hazard assessments (a specific measure the CDC recommends businesses take in partnership with public health departments) to identify areas and job tasks with potential exposures and develop and implement control measures to eliminate or minimize them.
- AI-driven Voice Analysis: Generate better call outcomes and enhance compliance by delivering prompts to agents based on words and phrases spoken by a patient or contact. By populating relevant information for the agent based on key words or phrases spoken (i.e. “exposure,” “infection,” “infectious period,” “symptoms,” “asymptomatic”), companies can streamline efficiency, deliver better call experiences, and ensure internal policies align with existing public health, occupational health, medical, anti-discrimination, and workplace privacy and confidentiality recommendations, laws, and regulations.
- Cloud-based Proactive Notifications: Automatically reach out to individuals or groups with optional response tracking, text interaction, and auto-forms to capture critical information. These notifications can be used to collect patient or contact information quickly and securely to better inform next steps (like providing instructions on isolation and symptom monitoring), as well as make referrals for testing and clinical services. The quicker information can be obtained, the faster professionals can assess a person’s ability to self-isolate safely and deliver support as necessary.
- Proximity tracing: If a person identifies as COVID-19 positive (or is experiencing symptoms), businesses can quickly identify and notify other employees, guests or customers who may have been in close proximity to that individual while onsite. Romni Neiman, who works as part of the CDC’s Contact Tracing Program Support Team, touted proximity tracing as key for quickly providing up-to-date information about the work environment and potential contacts and exposure. Bluetooth or GPS is used to estimate the proximity and duration of an individual’s exposure to one or more patients diagnosed with COVID-19 (individuals must give consent using voluntary opt-in tools).
Learn more about the state of Contact Tracing which explores different state approaches to Contact Tracing for COVID-19, staffing challenges, leveraging data and technology, and business and public health coordination.
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