The latest Situation Summary from the CDC has confirmed that novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has begun community spread in the United States. The level of concern among the general population is rising, along with the number of confirmed cases. Hospital personnel are looking for ways to conduct mass screening of patients scheduled for procedures and also to answer questions from the community about what to do in the event of exposure.
The Importance of Screening for Coronavirus Exposure
Imagine a scenario in which someone who doesn’t know they have COVID-19 goes to the hospital or a care facility for an appointment or elective procedure. By the time they are checked in, examined, and diagnosed, dozens if not hundreds, of staff and patients could potentially be exposed. Pre-hospital providers and other transport services may also risk exposure.
This is the exact scenario hospitals are trying to avoid as more cases of coronavirus are being confirmed every day. Hospital systems like the University of California San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) are taking no time in debating the merits of partnering with CipherHealth to develop an automated screening program for people they know are coming to the hospital for appointments.
“UCSF needed a way to reach thousands of patients to assess for potential coronavirus exposure,” says Gina Intinarelli, RN PhD, VP of Population Health. “The ability to use an automated, interactive phone call outreach system enabled us to not only alert patients, but also quickly identify which ones needed to speak directly to our care teams.“
Proactive Patient Outreach is Key
CipherHealth’s Chief Nursing Officer Lisa Romano says proactive patient outreach with screening and direction on where to seek care if necessary, is one of the most powerful tools a hospital can adopt right now as they try to contain the virus yet still provide patient care and the safety of their community.
“We understand the importance of a rapid, agile response to ensure our healthcare partners have what they need to keep their communities safe. We are being asked to quickly implement a Coronavirus Outreach Screening Program for hospitals to seamlessly scale mass outreach efforts,” said Romano.
CipherHealth’s first Coronavirus Outreach Screening Program partner, UCSF, was up and running within 48 hours of the first cases being known and since then, nearly 50,000 patients have been screened, helping to control the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus: Current Situation and Essential Next Steps
As of this writing, there is no vaccine or treatment available for COVID-19. Minimizing exposure to the virus is essential. It’s important to know if patients that are scheduled for tests and procedures are experiencing symptoms with rescheduling of elective procedures occurring before the patient presents to the hospital or testing facility. In addition, providing members of the community information on how to prevent infection and manage the current threat is essential.
CDC guidelines suggest the following questions be used for screening to assess the risk of infection:
- Does the person have fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
- Has the patient traveled outside of the US?
- Has the patient had close contact with a person confirmed with the infection or exhibiting symptoms?
See daily updates from the World Health Organization on the spread of the virus worldwide and in the U.S.
CipherHealth will be monitoring developments on the coronavirus and continue to provide information relevant to Coronavirus Outreach Screening Program here on the blog.
Reach out to us at [email protected] if you have any questions about the Coronavirus Outreach Screening Program.