Kent Co. launches new digital tracing tool for COVID-19

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Health Department is launching a new tool to help track coronavirus cases.

“This is just enhancing our contact tracing efforts and kind of responding to the increased demand on our staff,” Brian Hartl with the Kent County Health Department said.

Health officials are partnering with Michigan software developer CoherentRX to implement a program called Patient Education Genius. It will help collect information from people who test positive for COVID-19 through a digital survey sent through text or email.

The new system will send a text message to anyone that’s tested positive for the virus. The message will include a link to an online, confidential survey for the person to complete as part of the contact tracing process.

A text message a person would receive from the Kent County Health Department after testing positive for COVID-19. (Oct. 28, 2020)

“It’s a questionnaire that provides us with information about their symptoms, their close contacts their exposures and things like that,” Hartl said.

Up until this point, county health department staff members would conduct interviews over the phone with individuals who’ve tested positive for coronavirus, asking similar questions to those in the survey.

“Hopefully, with the use of this technology, it’s going to reduce the burden on our staff, increase the number of cases that they can actually get through on a daily basis to keep up with the demand,” Hartl said.

The program will also help provide isolation and quarantine information.

People who do not complete the digital survey will get a call from a disease investigator to collect the information.

The department says while it has used the program on a limited basis over the past few weeks, it will start using the tool on a larger scale.

People younger than 18 and older than 70 will receive a phone call from health officials when they test positive for the virus.

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