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HSE ‘focused’ on improving testing to tracing time – Reid

By Mindo - 19th May 2020

The HSE is focused on “significantly” improving end-to-end turnaround times from Covid-19 swabbing to test result notification and contact tracing, HSE CEO Mr Paul Reid has told the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response this afternoon.

“Our focus now is to significantly improve the end-to-end turnaround times,” he said. “We have committed to an average turnaround time from swabbing to test result notification of two days or less, and we have also set ourselves the target of achieving a turnaround time of three days from point of referral to completion of contact tracing in 90 per cent of cases.”

Mr Reid said the HSE last week published its “change management plan” providing for capacity to process 100,000 tests per week.

“This involved securing 41 laboratories now for Covid testing, the availability of 47 swabbing centres and the deployment of new systems, process and supports to improve automation and turnaround times. Along with the increased capacity we have also just recently introduced the following:

·         A GP service called “Find My Test” went live on Thursday 14 May;

·         14-day Active Management of contacts of a confirmed case;

·         Automatic texting of negatives, speeding up receipt of this result;

·         Automatic testing for contacts of a confirmed case;

·         Automated scheduling of appointments to reduce wait times;

·         Automatic test referral for contacts of confirmed cases;

·         Improved notification of complex cases to Public Health Departments;

·         An IT solution to automate results data between the NVRL and the Case Tracker Customer Relationship Management (CRM) thereby enhancing turnaround times by as much as 24 hours.”

Today the HSE is in a position to conduct over 100,000 tests per week across swabbing, laboratory and contact tracing infrastructure (the “end-to-end” process), he said.

Appointments for “swabbing are now available on the same or next day” and testing capacity “now exceeds the present demand”.

The HSE’s ICT team and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer are in the final stages of the development of a mobile application to augment the available contact tracing team of over 1,800 people.

Mr Reid also warned that “we will be contending with Covid-19 for some considerable time to come”.

Throughout the crisis, he said front-line workers had pioneered new ways of working, by showing “an agility and a resilience that has been truly extraordinary”.

“Many lives have been saved because of their skill, innovation and commitment. I am however deeply conscious that many have lost their lives to Covid-19, including healthcare workers. I would like to again extend my sincere condolences to the families of our staff and all the families who lost loved ones.”

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