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Design, Implementation, and Validation of an Automated, Algorithmic COVID-19 Triage Tool
Objective We describe the design, implementation, and validation of an online, publicly available tool to algorithmically triage patients experiencing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)-like symptoms.
Methods We conducted a chart review of patients who completed the triage tool and subsequently contacted our institution's phone triage hotline to assess tool- and clinician-assigned triage codes, patient demographics, SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) test data, and health care utilization in the 30 days post-encounter. We calculated the percentage of concordance between tool- and clinician-assigned triage categories, down-triage (clinician assigning a less severe category than the triage tool), and up-triage (clinician assigning a more severe category than the triage tool) instances.
Results From May 4, 2020 through January 31, 2021, the triage tool was completed 30,321 times by 20,930 unique patients. Of those 30,321 triage tool completions, 51.7% were assessed by the triage tool to be asymptomatic, 15.6% low severity, 21.7% moderate severity, and 11.0% high severity. The concordance rate, where the triage tool and clinician assigned the same clinical severity, was 29.2%. The down-triage rate was 70.1%. Only six patients were up-triaged by the clinician. 72.1% received a COVID-19 test administered by our health care system within 14 days of their encounter, with a positivity rate of 14.7%.
Conclusion The design, pilot, and validation analysis in this study show that this COVID-19 triage tool can safely triage patients when compared with clinician triage personnel. This work may signal opportunities for automated triage of patients for conditions beyond COVID-19 to improve patient experience by enabling self-service, on-demand, 24/7 triage access.
Keywordsclinical decision support - human–computer interaction - improvement - automated triage - algorithmic medicine
Protection of Human and Animal Subjects
The study was performed in compliance with the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki on Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects. This study was reviewed by University of Pennsylvania Institutional Review Board and determined to be exempt as it met criteria for IRB review exemption authorized by 45 CFR 46.104, category 4.
* Equal co-first author contribution.
Received: 06 July 2021
Accepted: 17 September 2021
Article published online:
03 November 2021
© 2021. Thieme. All rights reserved.
Georg Thieme Verlag KG
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