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Thomson Reuters CLEAR® COVID-19 contact tracing case study

Health informatics firm AM TRACE adapts advanced technology to slow the spread of COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous communities across the U.S. experienced alarming spikes in new cases of the disease in the summer of 2020. In one densely populated West Coast county, public health officials were gravely concerned by the outbreak’s scale and complexity.

To combat new infections, local officials engaged AM TRACE (“TRACE”) to implement a comprehensive contact tracing program based upon guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program comprises over 230 case navigators, case investigators, and contact tracers.

TRACE is a national leader in community-based contact tracing and testing and is developing advanced quality assurance (QA) measures to assist local health departments across the U.S. with vaccine distribution.

Contact tracing has proven effective in the fight against COVID-19

Contact tracing has been used to successfully mitigate pandemics in countries around the world.

A recent CDC study shows that state-mandated stay-at-home orders and public mask mandates — coupled with case investigation and contact tracing, can reduce the number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. During a three-month period, one state saw an 82% reduction in cases, while hospitalizations dropped 88% and mortality was reduced by 100%.

Contact tracing informs people who have tested positive for Covid-19 that they should take steps to avoid infecting others. Those with COVID-19 may be contagious 48 to 72 hours before they experience symptoms.

While contact tracers attempt to identify all recent contacts, care coordinators offer guidance on isolating for a period of time and when to seek medical attention.

Contact tracing demands speed and accuracy to maximize outreach

Despite some initial success, county health officials encountered obstacles in establishing timely communications with many who tested positive.

In some cases, a local health jurisdiction may have only a name and date of birth for an individual, but no current address or phone number. Lack of current contact information can lead to delays in communicating positive test results in a timely manner. Asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 can unknowingly infect others.

Previously, the protocol in place was to mail a letter asking those who tested positive to call a contact tracer. The letter could take several days to arrive, and the county relied on the recipient to call back, producing variable results.

Health officials turn to TRACE to accelerate the fight against COVID-19

County health officials enlisted TRACE to fortify their contact tracing efforts. Using CLEAR by Thomson Reuters, TRACE staff are able to quickly locate missing contact information for people who test positive for COVID-19.

Brendan Binkoski, TRACE’s senior compliance officer, values CLEAR because it’s quick and user friendly. “I’ve used CLEAR for enhanced due diligence in the past, working with risk investment advisors and corporate intelligence.”

The platform is particularly well suited for contact tracing because it provides real-time data. “It gives me all the information, sources it, and shows the date,” Binkoski says.

CLEAR helps identify missing data faster

During the first four months of using CLEAR to support the county’s contact tracing efforts, Binkoski has turned to the platform on a daily basis. County officials send him anywhere from 25 to 90 missing information requests per day.

When he enters details into the dashboard, it often provides a match within seconds. “About 50 to 75% of the time, a date of birth with first and last name narrows it down to one individual,” he says.

The platform’s reverse phone number search determines if the number is current, indicating if that number is active or if an address is current. Binkoski then sends health officials pertinent contact information on a HIPAA-compliant dashboard.

CLEAR empowers TRACE to deliver measurable results 

To date, TRACE has fielded over 1,524 requests from county health officials. More than 65% of the time, TRACE is able to return a verified phone number or address.

While CLEAR doesn’t track minors or those with no credit footprint in the U.S., Thomson Reuters’ data is doing wonders for the county’s contact tracing efforts.

“Over 1,000 times to date, CLEAR has returned a phone number and contact information that the county health department otherwise did not have,” says Binkoski. “Without CLEAR, TRACE and our partners in the county health department would have no reliable method to reach contacts who may have been exposed to COVID-19.”

Binkoski believes Thomson Reuters could aid any contact tracing operation in the U.S.

“CLEAR is a great product,” he says. “It’s very user friendly. I like the dashboard. And the pricing is competitive.”

Ready to make a change? 

For analysts and investigators who need to quickly locate, identify, and connect critical facts, Thomson Reuters CLEAR is powered by billions of data points and leverages innovative public records technology to bring all key content together in a customizable dashboard, allowing you to search data and view results in a layout that complements your workflow.

Unlike other public record platforms, all levels of government agencies trust CLEAR to provide robust, real-time data that closes gaps in investigations and gives you an edge over traditional information delays.


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