Nova Scotia wins international award for COVID-19 response

Nova Scotia Health and its partners are being recognized internationally for designing and developing a technology solution that saved local public health officials hundreds of hours at the height of the first wave of the pandemic.

The UNIVANTS of Healthcare Excellence Award recognizes teams that collaborate across disciplines and transform health care delivery, ultimately improving patient lives.
Nova Scotia Health and its partners were awarded the prestigious Recognition of Achievement award at a virtual global event earlier this week.

“The Nova Scotia Health IM/IT team, in collaboration with our government IT partner –the Department of Service Nova Scotia – Internal Services – have shown real ingenuity and flexibility during a time of crisis and huge pressure,” says Andrew Nemirovsky, Nova Scotia Health’s chief information officer and IM/IT senior director.

“We were asked to come up with a way to get information to patients quickly and efficiently to help alleviate the workload on our Public Health team given the significant workload they were experiencing. The team did a fantastic job building a simple, secure system to communicate faster results to patients,” Nemirovsky said.

When COVID-19 hit the province in March, leaders at Nova Scotia Health recognized contacting patients with test results would be a human resource challenge. As testing ramped up, more than 60 Public Health staff were delivering test results by phone to more than 40,000 Nova Scotians. Most results were delivered within a 48-72 hour timeframe – an unsustainable pace with the potential to overwhelm staff.

Recognizing that challenge, Nova Scotia Health leaders turned to information management and technology team members to develop a solution to reduce the time spent contacting those who tested negative for the coronavirus.

In partnership with the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services and Lyniate, along with the support of the Department of Health and Wellness, a fully automated and secure in-house notification system was created to reach out to those who tested negative for COVID-19.

“I want to congratulate the team for the eResults COVID Negative project,” said Sandra Cascadden, Associate Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness. “Their solution improves the patient experience, minimizing the stress and anxiety associated with the wait for results, while protecting data and patient privacy.”

The negative COVID-19 test result technology solution produces and sends an email with a unique link for patients to then view their negative results.

From June to the end of September, 37,311 emails were sent, with 30,293 people accessing their online information. Estimating that each phone call or voicemail to deliver a negative test result would take to 2-3 minutes, the new solution is estimated to have saved staff more than 1,500 hours.

Those hours are now spent more effectively by Public Health by providing valuable contact tracing support, as well as helping communities with COVID-19 reopening plans (e.g. schools and businesses).

Patients are now receiving negative test results within a day; whereas results prior to this technology would have taken 2-3 business days. A decrease in wait times provide patients and their families peace of mind sooner, reducing overall stress and anxiety.

Since the initial implementation, Nova Scotia Health has adapted the application to be used for mandatory post-secondary student testing and the organization continues to work with its partners on other testing scenarios that the application could be used for to deliver negative test results.

Source: Release #notw

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