What is Contact Tracing?
Contact tracing is a core disease control activity. It has been used for decades by state/provincial and local health departments to slow or stop the spread of infectious disease.1 It is essential to any pandemic plan and key to even begin thinking of relieving social distancing requirements.
Contact Tracing, Protecting Members, and NEMT
To keep their communities safe, NEMT providers across the continent have been using TripSpark’s NEMT software (NovusMED) to support contact tracing and manage this multifaceted, yet crucial component of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. When it comes to NEMT, providers must routinely find innovative transportation solutions to help ensure the most isolated or vulnerable members can get to their appointments and access their essential services. Your providers are at the forefront, to make sure no member falls through the cracks.
Is there plan in place for when a driver and/or vehicle becomes vulnerable by being in close contact with COVID-19 infected sites or individuals? How can the extent of the exposure be quantified to determine the need for notification or isolation? Contact tracing will help your NEMT agency answer these questions and is crucial to protect your drivers and members.
Using Technology to Support Effective Contact Tracing
The very concept of identifying and tracing back to your drivers, members and vehicles is intimidating as it is. “Dealing with member NEMT needs on a daily basis requiring schedule changes is a part of normal operations. Having to track who rode with whom, who was driving, who were the passengers and where they were picked up and dropped off is not something we anticipated. This is now a required part of managing the COVID-19 contact tracing,” said Kris Lyon, Senior Manager of Business Development for TripSpark Medical.
While this may seem like a colossal task, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here at TripSpark, we’ve been working to ensure our solutions and our knowledge can help when you need it. Our technology can be leveraged to facilitate contact tracing. For instance, the Passenger Information Report in our NovusMED software allows providers to select a specific passenger and date range, and generate a report that will list all members and drivers the member rode with over the selected date range, including a checkbox to denote if members were onboard together. Additionally, the Driver Information Report enables you to select a certain driver and will list all members that rode with the driver during a selected date range.
This table (hypothetical) shows a list of passengers for a given driver within a given date range, to keep track of anyone that could potentially be infected by a driver who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Using NovusMED, you can also extract member list for all of the runs driven by a driver that may have been exposed to the infection. For a more elaborate, automated solution, you can configure NovusMED to save all of the driver, member, and vehicle records, opening up a plethora of additional reporting functions, automatically, without any manual work to re-create the data. While you may already have a contact tracing process in place, and need to streamline, TripSpark can help you fine tune your solution. At TripSpark, we have been helping agencies with contact tracing tasks. Together, you can learn from each other and since you are all facing the same challenges brought on by this pandemic.
Here Are 4 Ways to Get Started With Contact Tracing
1. Maintaining Records: Using a traditional method (paper and pen, or spreadsheet) to maintain member and driver records for contact tracing may work for a little while, but mistakes can be made easily and require significant commitment and work to maintain and scale. Alternatively, you can set up NovusMED to preserve these records so that the data is readily available when you need to trace back.
2. Driver & Member Tracing: If a driver or member tests positive for COVID-19, use NovusMED to gather that run information. It will be necessary to determine who may have been exposed and might need to be notified or isolated. Also helpful with future planning, - driver and member assignments can be made accordingly to ensure members who have tested positive are handled appropriately if they need to book subsequent trips.
3. Vehicle Tracing: To determine which drivers and members could have been affected, you can use NovusMED to gather information on vehicles that were exposed to COVID-19 – the same way as driver and member tracing, and subsequently use the software to help schedule supplementary vehicle sanitization procedures or downtime.
4. Supplementary Queries & Reports: Collaborating with NEMT providers on this undertaking has given us insights that you can take advantage of and has helped us build a source of new queries and reports for NovusMED. These reports are intended to extract specific data you require to speed up your contact tracing procedures, helping you care for your ridership and community.
To learn more about contact tracing and best practices, feel free to reach out to us directly.