Technology to Aid State Contact Tracing Efforts

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

States are increasingly leveraging technology to help state and local officials trace and contain virus outbreaks – and each state seems to be taking a different approach. Everything from calls and texts to apps and online forms is being used. Patient contact tracing methods vary widely across the states — from centralized tracing by state health departments to decentralized methods that rely on calls and texts sent by individual local health departments.

What’s common is the need for case-management systems that manage interactions and follow-up activities. These systems organize information that contact tracers collect through their outreach, as well as information entered through online portals by citizens themselves.

Data collected by these case management systems can help states identify the total number of cases, hospitalizations, etc., by geography. These systems are typically robust tools that provide everything from analytical dashboards to mass communication tools. But there is so much more states can do with the data by integrating their case management systems with other state-based eligibility and aid systems, such as Medicaid management information systems or unemployment insurance systems — all while protecting sensitive patient information.

That’s where vendors can help:

Process Automation

Contact tracing is a manual process, even with the assistance of case management. Manually tracking and triggering actions based on a patient’s interaction history can make the process cumbersome. Leveraging automation tools that can automatically notify key stakeholders in seconds when certain thresholds are exceeded can help tracing be more efficient.

Advanced Analytics and AI

Many case management systems provide analytical dashboards that can be useful in tracking case metrics and tracing history. Folding in artificial intelligence and other advanced analytic tools that utilize case data and statistics can help predict and map potential outbreaks — so that officials can get ahead of the curve.

Application Integration

Tying contact tracing case management systems to Medicaid management information systems, unemployment insurance or child welfare systems can help state and local officials create more powerful response plans. It can also help improve claim response time for Medicaid recipients, reduce cases of fraud in unemployment insurance claims and ensure safety of those monitored through child welfare systems.

Every state is facing a budget revenue shortfall — for at least the current fiscal year — so funds and investments are being closely monitored. To help state and local officials in their efforts, vendors should propose solutions that promote efficiency and save money. Technology solutions that boost the capabilities of case management systems and help contact tracers increase their reach will no doubt greatly aid in the containment of future outbreaks.


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