Speedy testing slows down spread

April 2, 2020 No Comments

Swiftqueue helps urgent test centres to get results

The primary weapon countries have in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 is rapid testing of people presenting to their GP with symptoms such as fever and cough.

The speed at which such cases can be identified, and the patient isolated, is critical. It’s why Irish health authorities have turned to enterprise scheduling platform Swiftqueue for help managing appointments at the country’s newly opened urgent test centres.

In Swiftqueue’s first week of deployment in the battle against Covid-19 it managed referrals at a rate of over 20,000 a day, across 60 urgent test centres nationwide.

Its specialist booking system is now providing clinicians and health authorities with key data. For patients, the speedy testing and efficient communication of results it facilitates is helping to reduce anxiety.

Swiftqueue, an Irish company, was set up in 2011 to provide efficient patient-centred processes to hospitals.

Today it works with hospitals and the community care sector across Ireland and the UK, as well as in Canada and the US. Though the clinical processes vary depending on the tests required, in all cases Swiftqueue enables GPs, hospital clinicians – and in many cases patients directly – to book and schedule diagnostic test and out-patient appointments and get their results quickly and efficiently.

Clients include some of Ireland’s biggest teaching voluntary hospitals including Beaumont, St Vincent’s, the Mater, Tallaght and St James’. Its UK client base includes 40 hospitals owned by 16 NHS Trusts, including the Royal Free Hospital and University College hospitals in London and Coventry and South Warwickshire.

“Our cloud-based service provides digital transformation for hospitals and community care centres, by allowing hospitals to schedule appointments and create co-ordinated care between clinics and the community,” explains Noel Dillon, director of sales at Swiftqueue.

Its online booking engines provide on-demand services for everything from phlebotomy (blood tests), physiotherapy, oncology and respiratory clinics to STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Very soon, in some locations, its system will be used for on demand patient booking of plain film X-rays, once GP approval has been given.

In Ireland the company works closely with Healthlink, the country’s national health messaging service which connects hospitals, health care agencies and GPs.

When news of the need for some 60 rapid test centres for Covid-19 around the country emerged, Swiftqueue put forward a reconfigured version of its existing solution in order to optimise testing activity nationwide.

The referral management and booking service is now helping to provide a rapid service at a time when speed is crucial. As well as dealing directly with patients referred into the system by their GP, it also produces testing lists for the country’s ambulance service, again based on doctor referrals.

The ambulance service provides virus testing for patients who are infirm, unwell or otherwise unable to get to test centres. In the current crisis, it’s vital that suspected cases do not use public transport.

Swiftqueue’s experience in the UK, where a significant proportion of routine hospital testing is carried out in the home, means it can optimise this element of the Covid-19 testing process in Ireland with ease.

Crucially, its solution also provides a wealth of information for health managers. In normal circumstances this would include reports about patients who turn up for clinics, how long they waited and how long they were seen for. It also identifies DNAs, or patients who ‘did not attend’, with a view to providing follow up care.

In relation to Ireland’s Covid-19 urgent test centres, Swiftqueue’s system is helping to ensure that patients can move through a test centre within 15 minutes. It’s an indicator of just how important speed is, considering that patients can typically expect to wait for up to two hours at diagnostic or out patient clinics”, he points out.

Another advantage the solution offers is that, apart from reducing the need for phone calls, it allows for mass broadcasts to patients by text, should circumstances require it. “For example, in the UK we’ve had two hospitals close because of gas leaks. In one case our system stopped 318 people for their scheduled appointments,” said Dillon.

Given that its largest UK clinic see upwards of 800 patients a day, for phlebotomy alone, the need for an efficient scheduling communications tool is clear.

Swiftqueue provides scheduling for more than two dozen testing services, for key departments such as oncology, radiology, respiratory and physiotherapy. In a normal year it handles almost five million phlebotomy tests a year across the UK and Ireland alone.

Right now, with Covid-19 a top priority across the globe, the advantages of the Swiftqueue solution are coming to the fore like never before.

“What we offer gives the Government and the HSE (Ireland’s Health Services Executive) the ability to set up clinics urgently and be able to see patients in very large numbers. While some of these services were being managed by the ambulance service, for patients who can’t make it to the drive through locations. Swiftqueue are pleased to be able to support the Ambulance service to facilitate these patients,” says Dillon.

“Swiftqueue then provides urgent and instant reporting of what’s going on, and integrates that back into other areas of the healthcare system, including logistics.”

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