Overburdened local health departments can face funding challenges at the best of times. Read on to learn how two health departments quickly maximized efficiencies and workflows to get control of COVID-19 in their communities.
Not since the Spanish Flu of 1918 has the world faced a pandemic as widespread and damaging as COVID-19. While health officials and governments worldwide fought the challenges of information collection and dissemination, test development, treatment plans, and best protocols to identify and quarantine positive cases, the brunt of the work fell to local health departments (LHDs).
Historically, LHDs have been underfunded, understaffed, and under equipped — especially when faced with a crisis. Much of the LHD technology is outdated, grant funding is often earmarked for one specific public health issue, and emergency preparedness funding overall has been declining. And due to funding limitations, LHDs often lack the underlying systems necessary to work cohesively with other agencies.
Many of us now recognize that employees in public health are heroes; but prior to the pandemic few understood how difficult their vital work could be. A tough job became seemingly insurmountable when COVID-19 cases began to climb at alarming rates.
LHDs scrambled to get ahead of the COVID-19 community spread.
By April 2020, LHDs needed to:
- Hire and train additional employees
- Gather and interpret constantly changing information
- Make decisions about public health processes for their communities
- Deal with backlash from those who didn’t agree with those measures.
Contact tracing, notifications, reporting — these all required vast numbers of worker hours that many LHDs didn’t have.
It was an uphill battle that strained resources and the emotional and mental well-being of the public health officials and staff tasked with these burdens.
So what were LHDs to do? How would they get through the pandemic and protect their populations? Let’s look at case studies from Waukesha County and the City of Detroit Health Department to see how they successfully created better workflows and improved their processes with the help of People.Health.
Waukesha County, WI: Streamlined State Reporting and Patient Engagement
During the second wave of the pandemic, Waukesha County faced the challenge of notifying patients about COVID-19 test results, collecting information about patients who tested positive, reporting that information to the state, and informing its population about free vaccination clinics.
Waukesha County needed a solution that could be created and implemented quickly and efficiently. That’s when they turned to People.Health.
People.Health harnessed the County’s existing technology to create a custom solution giving Waukesha County the power to digitally distribute test results to high volumes of patients and deliver case reporting questionnaires to those who tested positive for COVID-19.
The same system uploaded the questionnaire responses to the state system and flagged undelivered and unanswered questionnaires for further case investigation follow-up.
Lastly, Waukesha then used People.Health’s broadcast tool to text information about vaccination clinics to its broader patient population with the click of a button.
Overall, Waukesha County electronically distributed 3,391 case investigation forms and delivered 4,412 test results via text message using the People.Health systems.
Using a custom configuration of People.Health solutions, Waukesha automated and digitized its processes, reducing reliance on call centers and other expensive, inefficient systems while increasing patient participation and engagement.
City of Detroit Health Department: Automating Vaccine Data Entry into State Databases
When the City of Detroit (the City) began offering COVID-19 vaccinations at the TCF downtown convention center, they were immediately inundated with thousands of citizens seeking appointments. They had the staff to manage patient volume. Still, they were challenged to maintain the meticulous documentation required by the state’s Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) and the city’s vaccination monitoring system. They brought in dozens of National Guard members to aid in the effort, but the manual data entry had a high error rate, and the process of duplicating entries for both systems caused inventory and tracking backups. They needed a solution, and they needed it fast. They contacted People.Health.
Taking data from the City’s patient appointment scheduling tool, People.Health within 45 days configured a tool that automatically populated that data directly into the MCIR system, thereby minimizing manual data entry errors. The system also flagged inaccuracies — those scheduled to receive more than two doses or two doses from different manufacturers — so staff could intervene and prevent potentially dangerous situations.
All the data collected from the appointment scheduling and vaccination process was then used to create an insights dashboard giving the City an overview of the population’s vaccination status.
By working with People.Health, the City of Detroit streamlined its processes, reduced errors, collected information, and successfully vaccinated more than 300,000 residents.
Supporting Local Health Departments Through Improved Workflows
The Waukesha County and City of Detroit case studies are just two examples of how People.Health provided timesaving, streamlined solutions that lessened the burden on resources for these LHDs –allowing them to focus on the health of their citizens.
At People.Health, we know there is no “one size fits all” solution. We work with clients to assess their unique challenges, evaluate existing systems, and develop solutions to fit their objectives.
Contact us today for a demo and more information about our highly configurable solutions.