I Don’t Know Everything, But Here’s Everything I Know.
I’m always humbled by how much there is to learn. Take, for instance, news and social media. Last week, I learned that the picture you accompany with any print media is the front-and-center, pre-selected photo for that feature. How did I learn? When I logged on to LinkedIn and saw myself smiling back at me on several pages. The silver lining is that I’ve been inspired to keep my photos up-to-date!
In all seriousness though, the article itself serves as a learning tool – especially in the concerned world of contact tracing. Just a few months ago, I had never heard of such a thing. Suddenly, I’m talking through interviews on tracing applications and find myself geeking out on the, almost daily, new developments. Even from that interview just a few weeks ago, the concept has evolved tremendously.
As a Floridian, my family and I are seeing firsthand the widespread struggles of resurging case numbers and hot spot flare-ups. So as I do my best to continue understanding contact tracing and how it’s supporting mitigation efforts, I thought to share what I’ve learned in the hopes that these tools and insights might also help you stay ahead of flattening the curve.
- Let’s start with the core of contact tracing – what in the world does that mean? On our contact tracing webpage, we define contact tracing as an effort to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus. Through digital surveys, typically administered by text message or email, COVID-19 patients can work with nurses and epidemiologists to symptom monitor, report who they’ve been in contact with, places they’ve gone and their test results. Doing so supports patients in regaining their health, and reduces the spread by quickly notifying any potentially exposed people so that they can quarantine and get tested.
- Wait, I’ve also heard about proximity tracing. They’re different? We’re so glad you asked – yes! In addition to contact tracing, proximity tracing is a Bluetooth initiative that allows smartphones to detect and notify you when someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 is in close proximity. The goal is to alert people of potential hot spots, or if they’re near someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus and may still be a carrier.
- We have the tools – great! What’s next? Believe it or not, actually using them. As you’ll read in the “Industry News” section, young people aren’t likely to take the time to participate in contact tracing phone calls. Data security concerns with Bluetooth technology are amuck. Trust in development companies is shaken.
Governments know all too well that the keys to public participation are mobilizing efforts so they are convenient, and minimizing the “opt-in” barriers so users can, within seconds, update their symptoms and move on with their day. These elements, of course, can be integrated. The element of trust? Not so seamless. I was blown away when one of our customers, The Ottawa County Public Health Department, reported a more than 91 percent response rate from their users. Reading more about other tracing applications, the only difference I can highlight is that this contact tracing application was born within a public health department, so people inherently trust it.
In such uncertain times, we must develop trust with one another – in respect to doing our part, trust is probably the largest part.
Everything I know about mitigation efforts and contact tracing are built into this newsletter. I hope you find as much value in these resources and conversations as I have and, if you want to talk more about applications, opportunities, or your thoughts on “what next,” I’m all ears.
Take care, everyone.
“Coronavirus Numbers Confusing You? Here’s How to Make Sense of Them.”
Over the last few months, we’ve all been forced into a refresher on reading charts, graphs and dashboards. With every new test, case, hospitalization and more, data changes by the second, and we’re constantly consuming the updates from news outlets, county websites and other media.
But really, what are all these numbers telling us?
In short: we’re not quite sure. A recent NextGov article tells us that “a fully accurate, real-time snapshot of the progress of the virus isn’t possible.”
Read on here to find out why.
Contact Tracing: What’s (Not) Working
Originally, it helped us flatten the curve. But as hot spots begin flaring up across the nation, contact tracing is the on-call firefighter working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The dedication to ensuring accessibility and user intuition, all in record breaking turnaround time, has been fantastic. In fact, developers and public health departments are coming up with innovative strategies all the time, the newest being proximity tracing with a reliance on Bluetooth technology.
And still, the response rates are dismal. So what’s truly obstructing the success of contact and proximity tracing? We are.
As Route Fifty reports, people younger than 50 years of age have made up 73 percent of positive cases since the beginning of June. That age group is more likely to live in close proximities with significant others, children, parents and roommates, contributing to the spread. What’s more is that this demographic is also least likely to pick up the phone and chat with contact tracers – the optimal mitigation effort as of now – or to enable Bluetooth to track their locations due to heightened data privacy concerns.
How can overcome these hurdles? We handed the mic to Vince Hanson, Director of Business Development at ImageSoft, for his thoughts:
“The approaches applied in other jurisdictions are not originating from recognizable, trusted organizations, and are not mobile friendly. In production since April of this year, our app doesn’t require anyone to ‘opt-in’ and was also born within a Public Health Department – its origin stems from the challenges and recommendations of front-line workers, such as nurses and epidemiologists. With over a 91 percent public response rate and thousands of hours in time savings for front-line workers at the Health Departments, I’d say the secret ingredients are being a simple, easy-to-use platform and originating from a publicly trusted source.”
Grand Rapids Business Journal: “Ottawa County Co-Develops Contact Tracing App”
Leveraging their existing OnBase system, Michigan’s Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) built their county a contact tracing application within the first couple weeks of March – just as the Coronavirus made its way to the United States.
Upon its success in flattening the curve, the application is now supporting public health officials with hot spot mitigation – and not just in Ottawa County. With a drive to equip every county with such a robust, rapid response tool, the OCDPH team has teamed up with ImageSoft to make the app available to every public health department. Several counties have since adopted the system.
Check out the stats on the app’s success in Ottawa County in this feature, courtesy of the Grand Rapids Business Journal.
What Can We Do For You?
ImageSoft has been bringing affordable, adaptable enterprise content management systems to state and local governments for quite some time. Our industry-leading solutions for government offer automated workflows, improved speed and efficiency, reduced costs and proper compliance.
ImageSoft is ready to help your organization reap the benefits from integrated enterprise content management.