Moving Faster than the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Rapid, Digital Transformation of a Public Health SystemFunding None.
Background Queensland, Australia has been successful in containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Underpinning that response has been a highly effective virus containment strategy which relies on identification, isolation, and contact tracing of cases. The dramatic emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic rendered traditional paper-based systems for managing contact tracing no longer fit for purpose. A rapid digital transformation of the public health contact tracing system occurred to support this effort.
Objectives The objectives of the digital transformation were to shift legacy systems (paper or standalone electronic systems) to a digitally enabled public health system, where data are centered around the consumer rather than isolated databases. The objective of this paper is to outline this case study and detail the lessons learnt to inform and give confidence to others contemplating digitization of public health systems in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods This case study is set in Queensland, Australia. Universal health care is available. A multidisciplinary team was established consisting of clinical informaticians, developers, data strategists, and health information managers. An agile “pair-programming” approach was undertaken to application development and extensive change efforts were made to maximize adoption of the new digital workflows. Data governance and flows were changed to support rapid management of the pandemic.
Results The digital coronavirus application (DCOVA) is a web-based application that securely captures information about people required to quarantine and creates a multiagency secure database to support a successful containment strategy.
Conclusion Most of the literature surrounding digital transformation allows time for significant consultation, which was simply not possible under crisis conditions. Our observation is that staff was willing to adopt new digital systems because the reason for change (the COVID-19 pandemic) was clearly pressing. This case study highlights just how critical a unified purpose, is to successful, rapid digital transformation.
Keywordspublic health - electronic health records and systems - clinical information systems - emergency and disaster care - biosurveillance and case reporting
Protection of Human and Animal Subjects
No human subjects were directly involved in this project.
Received: 21 November 2020
Accepted: 22 January 2021
24 March 2021 (online)
© 2021. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
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