How Akinox Solutions, a Boutique Tech firm Enabled the Province of Québec to Manage (or Get Ahead of) its Case Load
With the intent of fostering the exchange and dissemination of information about our respective experience in grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, here is how Akinox Solutions, a boutique health tech firm with headquarters in Québec, Canada has enabled the Province to manage its Case Load.
In February 2020, the first cases of SARS-CoV-2 (‘Coronavirus,’ ‘COVID-19,’ ‘COVID’) were detected in Québec. As the number of cases rose quickly and steadily increased, the Province was reported as having the highest number of infections in Canada. Public Health Departments were overwhelmed as case managers and contact tracers were spending between 30 and 120 minutes on each phone call with individuals who tested positive for the disease or who had been in contact with someone who had tested positive. This rapidly became a race against the transmission of the virus that the government did not want to lose.
Reaching people quickly enough to notify them of their potential exposure to the virus and explain the necessity to isolate became highly challenging. Whilst public health authorities were equipped to treat a maximum of 10,000 cases per year, they had to manage a case load reaching 9,000 cases within the first weeks of the pandemic. According to the Director General Public Health Protection, the situation was daunting.
To get ahead of the COVID pandemic, government officials sought a solution to streamline and automate several processes that were for the most part executed manually and in non-integrated manner. Adding to these difficult circumstances were the limitations imposed by a paper-based system and a proprietary IT infrastructure that was not designed to manage a pandemic. Too much time was spent entering data into the system, and public health authorities were unable to access key information and generate reports that would inform decision-making. The province was also challenged to get the latest directives distributed to the front lines working across the province seventeen (17) administrative regions. Québec’s territory is three times larger than France with a population of 8.574 inhabitants (2020). Given the rapid evolution, existing communications tools such as printed materials became obsolete or outdated before they could be fully disseminated.
The Solution – An Integrated Digital Platform for an Efficient and Effective Management of Public Health Data
The province quickly needed a scalable solution that could integrate with and improve the efficiency of its existing contact tracing and case management capacity to alleviate the pressure on their staff and phone lines.
Known to the Québec Ministry of Health as a digital health expert and collaborator for over 10 years, Akinox Solutions was asked to develop and implement a provincial solution to support the identification and management of positive cases, the tracing and monitoring of contacts, and eventually more trajectories such as the automation of testing services as the pandemic progressed. Akinox gave the province the digital scalable solution that they needed to handle high case and contact volumes. Within four (4) days, this solution satisfied a first phase of response, which included daily monitoring.
Akinox Pandemic Solution has now become a comprehensive and integrated case investigation/monitoring platform that supports the management of the pandemic across the province. By providing the data on sources of infection daily, Québec’s Government gained a responsive ability to quickly identify clusters, potential outbreaks as well as populations most at risks of developing a severe case of the disease. This also provided the Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux access to a wide set of data to inform the development of trajectories as well as measures to put in place to curb the first and current wave.
Achieving Measurable Results
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, indicated that the solution deployed by Akinox was instrumental in supporting authorities with the monitoring of the spread of the virus and with decision-making around public health measures and efforts to flatten transmission curves.
Since its deployment in early April 2020, the Akinox Pandemic Response platform has been used by more than 3,500 contact tracers, nurses, and authorized personnel from the regional public health departments across the province. The Akinox platform also enabled contact tracers to track the evolution of symptoms for confirmed cases and contributed to significantly reducing the spread of the disease.
The province measured the success of its pandemic response in a few ways, including tracking the number of cases and contacts, the time it took to contact those affected, the wellbeing of contact tracers, and the time required to train newcomers. With the Akinox Pandemic Response platform, information collection is now automated, allowing staff to focus their attention on the most critical cases and contacts at risk. This has proven to be a more efficient way for Québec’s Health authorities to deal optimize resources to monitor, control and contain the progression of community transmission. This approach improved the efficiency with which the province captured the information required for contact tracers to do follow-ups on the evolution of the disease among cases and their contacts.
The Akinox Pandemic Response platform also enabled Québec to keep pace with the latest information. The web-based solution provides the front lines instant access to the latest directives and the ability to point people to the right resources and testing facilities.
Québec public health authorities now automate 93% of their contact tracing activities through self-reporting done via the Akinox platform, thus augmenting resource capacity. A reduction in human errors associated with telephone communication was noted since the self-administered questionnaires are in use. Overall, the new processes significantly improved data quality and data-driven decision-making. Another upside of using the contact tracing and case management platform is that it enabled Québec’s contact tracers to work from home and avoid unsafe proximity with other staff.
Within the first 43 days of using the Akinox solution, the province was able to reduce their contact tracer requirements by a headcount of 85, for an estimated cost savings of $6M in the first year.
Akinox Public Health Pandemic Dashboard
Implementing the Akinox Pandemic solution promoted a significant change in basic assumptions for the province of Québec – technologically and culturally.
Online clinical notes facilitated communication and enabled teams to execute tasks faster and more effectively. Akinox’s real-time dashboards also helped teams identify and prioritize cases needing a callback each day. Understanding the number of calls required within the next period gave managers insights into staffing level demands.
Akinox and public health authorities are also able to leverage geo-localization data to map case hotspots to anticipate and mitigate clusters of outbreaks. Finally, as new contact tracers were brought on board, the process of getting them trained and ready for the frontlines was accelerated.
In using the Akinox system, all staff are now guided through the contact tracing process via web-based interfaces designed to follow the government’s established procedures and requirements.
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Julie Rochon VP Global Markets & Strategy
AKINOX SOLUTIONS IS COMMITTED TO progressive digital health process automation to transform your healthcare infrastructure. Akinox Virtual Care and Pandemic platforms are designed to bridge the gaps in transitions of care, bring care closer to patients and their communities, and streamline integrated virtual and physical care for greater efficiency, wider accessibility, and improved outcomes.