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5 tips for an effective contact trace program

Contact tracing programs have been helping to limit the spread of COVID-19 worldwide. So it’s no surprise that more and more state and local governments have set up such programs – or are looking to do so. Yours is likely to be one of them.

But there’s a caveat: Simply establishing a contact tracing program isn’t enough. It needs to be thoroughly thought out and designed so that it can truly reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your community.

If your department or agency has been charged with developing a contact tracing program, here are five ways to make that program truly effective.

1. Get the word out so that your residents know what to expect

You’ll want to have representatives from your agency or other departments let your residents know about the program – and that a contact tracer will contact them, if necessary.

This serves several purposes. One, it expresses your local government’s concerns about residents’ health and safety during the pandemic. Two, it demonstrates your willingness to address these concerns in a specific and effective way.

And there’s a third purpose. Alerting residents can help them distinguish your official program from the numerous contact tracing scams that have arisen. Scammers are disguising themselves as contact tracers in order to get people to provide their credit card or bank account information. These fraudulent callers might even claim to be from your state or municipality’s health department.

As you spread the word about your program, make it clear that your contact tracers won’t be asking for any payments or financial account numbers. There are a number of ways you can signal to your residents when communications are coming from your program and not from a scam artist. For instance, one program lets its citizens know that if the phrase “MD COVID” appears on their phone’s caller ID readout, it’s a legitimate call from an official government representative.

2. Distribute log sheets to get a head start on contact tracing

Your agency or department can distribute these at testing sites so that people can log their interactions while awaiting their test results. Log sheets should include contacts and locations visited. That way, if a person’s test results turn out to be positive, he or she can provide thorough, reliable answers to contact tracing questions.

3. Develop simple, digital forms for survey and interview processing

Such forms don’t only make it easier for patients and the people they might have infected. They can help make the data collection process easier and more consistent. Your forms should also be optimized for mobile viewing so that citizens can respond directly via their phone.

4. Build a trustworthy contact database

Good data is crucial. Whenever you’ve identified a person who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, you’ll need to connect with potentially exposed people as quickly as possible. That speed must also be tempered with prudence. Inaccurate or incomplete contact information could result in contact tracers causing unnecessary worry by contacting the wrong individuals.

For those subjects who volunteer a list of associates, the process is a bit easier. Real-time public records information from sources like credit bureaus, utilities, and department of motor vehicles databases can help. But not everyone has access to this level of information. Contact tracers need consistent access to information that is reliable and up to date.

Thomson Reuters Contact Trace offers exactly that. The tool uses third-party public records data and the established performance of Thomson Reuters CLEAR® to make contact tracing as effective and efficient as possible.

5. Balance your case management to keep an eye on the big picture

The contact information of those potentially exposed to COVID-19 isn’t the only kind of data you’ll need to rely on. You’ll want a system that allows you and your agency to balance your caseload, track progress across your large contact tracing team, and see real-time case updates.

One digital platform that allows you to do all this is Thomson Reuters Contact Trace, a cloud-based case management application developed by Thomson Reuters. It utilizes state and federal data compiled via CLEAR, Thomson Reuters’ public records technology, in order to quickly and accurately make contact with those potentially infected with COVID-19. The platform brings together all the contact information in a single dashboard. That way, your contact tracers can reach the people they need to reach, and do so quickly.

If your government entity is looking to establish or improve its contact tracing program, check out Thomson Reuters Contact Trace. You can request a free demonstration here.

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