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NEWS | July 14, 2020

Technology streamlines COVID-19 testing by Wisconsin Guard

By Staff Sgt. Katie Theusch Wisconsin National Guard

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin National Guard, working with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), rolled out new technology to streamline COVID-19 testing.

The Dynamics Testing and Registration Application (DTRA), also known as COVID Connect, enables people to register online before being tested for the coronavirus.

Maj. Russel Simonis, the officer in charge of the Wisconsin National Guard specimen collection team, said the program was developed by the State Emergency Operations Center contact tracing team, Microsoft and other stakeholders.

“It streamlines the collection of patient data on the point of specimen collection by allowing the individual being tested to register online prior to arriving at the test site, or to register while waiting in line to receive a test,” he said.

Patients fill out a brief questionnaire covering symptoms, contact information, and date of birth to verify identity. The patient then receives two emails – a confirmation email with a QR code and an email with a link to the system to report suspected COVID-19 exposures.

“The biggest effects are faster testing process, allowing for a higher throughput at the point of collection, data accuracy, and faster result notifications for the individuals being tested,” Simonis said.

Test results are emailed to the tested individual.

The technology was tested at the Alliant Energy Center testing site in Madison last week. Wisconsin National Guard specimen collection teams were issued iPads and iPhones to scan QR codes to link a patient’s information with their collected specimen.

The system increased testing as much as 40 percent per hour, Gov. Tony Evers said in a news release.

“It’s been implemented here for two days, and has increased our efficiency by almost 100 cars per hour,” said Capt. Jordan Schultz, the regional officer in charge of the Wisconsin National Guard’s Task Force Charlie.

The new system has also helped reduce paperwork and errors due to handwriting.

“You can fill out a survey online at the DHS website, and then if you put in all of your own information, it’s what we would’ve asked you before you got tested here,” Sgt. Cody Groskreutz said while facilitating testing at the Alliant Energy Center. “It just makes it a lot faster if you’re able to fill out this information yourself because there are no typos.”

Master Sgt. Peter Sodini, an Airman with the 128th Air Refueling Wing, said he was excited that Guard leaders are “doing everything they can do to streamline the process and make sure there is accuracy.”

The new process will be used initially at community-based testing sites in Madison and Milwaukee, with expansion to Department of Corrections sites and other sites. Simonis said the long term goal is to use the program at all collection sites supported by the Wisconsin National Guard.

“COVID-19 testing is a very challenging mission that is conducted in a wide variety of environments for a wide variety of individuals,” Simonis said. “Initiatives like DTRA are instrumental steps forward in standardizing a process that has many variables. Our team will continue to work to develop new processes and systems that aid in that effort.”



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