New technology increases efficiency at Wisconsin National Guard COVID-19 testing sites
By Staff Sgt. Katie Theusch
WISCONSIN – The Wisconsin National Guard, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), rolled out new technology at community-based testing sites making the COVID-19 testing process more efficient.
The Dynamics Testing and Registration Application (DTRA), also known as COVID Connect, is a program which provides online registration for citizens prior to being tested for COVID-19.
“DTRA was designed and developed by the State Emergency Operations Center contact tracing team in conjunction with a team from Microsoft, as well as additional stakeholders, to address several challenges that are inherent to the specimen collection process,” said Maj. Russel Simonis, the officer in charge for the Wisconsin National Guard specimen collection action team. “It streamlines the collection of patient data on the point of specimen collection by allowing the individual being tested to register online prior to arriving at the test site, or to register while waiting in line to receive a test”
Individuals fill out a brief questionnaire covering symptoms, contact information, and date of birth in order to verify identity. Once completed, the patient will receive two emails – a confirmation email with a QR code, and an email with a link to the system to report suspected COVID-19 exposures.
“The biggest effects are faster testing process, allowing for a higher throughput at the point of collection, data accuracy, and faster result notifications for the individuals being tested,” Simonis said.
After testing is completed, results can be emailed to the tested individual through the email address provided during registration.
DTRA was piloted at the Alliant Energy Center testing site in Madison early last week. Wisconsin National Guard specimen collection teams at the site were issued iPads and iPhones to scan QR codes in order to link a patient’s information with their collected specimen. In a press release, Governor Tony Evers stated that as many as 40 percent more tests per hour were completed over two days last week thanks to the DTRA system.
“It’s been implemented here for two days, and has increased our efficiency by almost 100 cars per hour,” said Capt. Jordan Schultz, the regional officer in charge of the Wisconsin National Guard’s Task Force Charlie, while at the Alliant Energy Center. Schultz helps manage the 13 specimen collection teams in the task force, including overseeing training related to the DTRA rollout.
The DTRA system has also helped reduce paperwork and errors due to handwriting.
“You can fill out a survey online at the DHS website, and then if you put in all of your own information, it’s what we would’ve asked you before you got tested here,” Sgt. Cody Groskreutz said while facilitating testing at the Alliant Energy Center. “It just makes it a lot faster if you’re able to fill out this information yourself because there are no typos.”
Master Sgt. Peter Sodini, an Airman with the 128th Air Refueling Wing, joined the specimen collection mission less than a month ago. He said it’s great to be part of something that helps the community, and he thinks the DTRA system is beneficial for COVID-19 testing.
“I’m excited to see that our leadership is doing everything they can do to streamline the process and make sure there is accuracy,” Sodini said.
The DTRA will be used initially at community-based testing sites in Madison and Milwaukee, with expansion into Department of Corrections sites, as well as other community-based testing sites to follow later in July, Simonis said. He added that the long-term goal is to use the program at all collection sites supported by the Wisconsin National Guard.
“We are constantly coordinating with DHS to help streamline testing operations that are supported by (the Wisconsin National Guard),” Simonis said. “COVID-19 testing is a very challenging mission that is conducted in a wide variety of environments for a wide variety of individuals. Initiatives like DTRA are instrumental steps forward in standardizing a process that has many variables. Our team will continue to work to develop new processes and systems that aid in that effort.”
Online COVID-19 testing pre-registration can be completed at www.register.covidconnect.wi.gov/.