Fenway Health Decreases Delivery Time for COVID-19 Test Results from Days to Minutes

The Client

Fenway Health
Specialties: Primary Care, Women’s Health, Behavioral Health, and Dental Services

The Goal

Reduce time to deliver test results

The Result

Delivering test results within 30 minutes of receiving them in the EHR

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The Challenge

Fenway Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with three clinics located throughout Boston, Massachusetts. Serving over 35 thousand patients annually, Fenway Health offers primary care as well as medical and specialty care ranging from behavioral health to dental services and ophthalmology. The health center believes “health care should be a right, not a privilege”, and today, Fenway’s mission is to deliver the highest quality care to the LGBTQIA+ community and all people in the in and beyond the surrounding neighborhoods.

 Like many health organizations during the public health crisis, Fenway is working diligently to ensure the community is afforded quick and safe testing for COVID-19. Given the volume of testing offered for both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, Fenway’s staff was burdened with the manual task of calling each individual patient to deliver their COVID-19 test results upon receiving them from the lab. While the health center also posted results to their patient portal, the workflow still required Fenway staff to notify patients of the posting via phone, text, or email. 

The manual efforts resulted in varied delivery times, depending on how long it took for staff to reach patients. Often, phone tag or the additional step of logging into a patient portal delayed the delivery of results to patients. Fenway understood the importance of fast delivery of COVID-19 test results in order to instruct infected individuals to self-quarantine and minimize the spread of the disease. Ultimately, the health center recognized an opportunity to automate test results delivery, thereby decreasing the manual workload of their staff while improving the speed by which patients received their COVID-19 test results.   


Providertech’s big vision allows us
to continue expanding scalable text messaging which helps us deliver the highest quality care and improve outcomes in and beyond our communities—without overburdening our staff.
––Chris Grasso, AVP Informatics & Data Analytics


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The Solution

Fenway Health was familiar with Providertech’s innovative and forward-thinking team, having previously worked on a solution to automate test results delivery for sexually transmitted infections (STI). The health center appreciated Providertech’s commitment to both data security in compliance with HIPAA as well as their clinical and technical expertise to provide the latest advances in technology within the context of health care. 

In the spring of 2020, Fenway and Providertech collaborated to replicate similar workflows and technology designed for the electronic delivery of STI test results via text message. Fenway Health’s DASH STI clinic is modeled after the innovative Dean St. Clinic in London. The Dean St. Clinic is recognized internationally for it’s innovation and engagement with the city’s high-risk communities, HIV management, and general sexual health services. Similarly, Fenway is working to offer same-day test results for sexual health screenings, allowing patients to use text messaging to:

Book, confirm, cancel and reschedule sexual health appointments

Receive sexually transmitted infection (STI) results on the same day of their screening

Access educational resources, follow-up information, and PrEP

Schedule rescreening appointments at regular intervals

Fenway and Providertech leveraged learnings from the prior use case of electronic STI test results delivery while customizing the operational nuances to enhance and speed up the delivery of negative COVID-19 test results. The team opted to continue delivering positive results manually in order to ensure continuity of care for patients diagnosed with the infection.

With seamless integration into their electronic health record, patients who tested negative would receive an automated text message notifying them of availability of their results the moment they were signed off by the provider. The text message included a link for patients to verify their identity using two-factor authentication to ensure HIPAA compliance and privacy of patient information. As an additional level of security, the link expired within a certain timeframe. Patients found the process to be user-friendly and familiar as it mimicked what they experience using mobile banking apps and other virtual workflows.

By automating COVID-19 test results delivery for individuals who tested negative, staff was freed up to focus on the patients who were diagnosed with the disease and scale the volume of people who were tested in-person.

30 Minutes from sign-off to delivery

Increase in COVID-19 testing
volume due to freed up staff

15 Average minutes from delivery to patients opening results on phone

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The Result

Phone icon showing text conversation between provider and patient.

Due to automated workflows and delivery, test results are reviewed and delivered to patients within 30 minutes of receipt of the results into Fenway’s health record system. In addition, the FQHC has experienced remarkable improvements in the time it takes for patients to receive their COVID-19 test results. While the baseline is difficult to measure given the variation in the time it took patients to open email notifications or respond to missed calls from the clinic, anecdotally, the health center estimates that the automated delivery has decreased the time it takes for patients to receive a negative test result from days to minutes. In fact, 80 percent of people tested are viewing the automated texts within 15 minutes.

Since staff is no longer manually calling individuals who test negative, they have more capacity to notify and care for patients who are infected. The collaboration proved to be another demonstration of Providertech’s big vision and problem-solving capabilities using the latest in API technology and FHIR. And, Providertech’s dedication to the patient experience continues to support Fenway’s efforts to engage more patients while delivering an exceptional experience from start to finish.

Assistant Vice President of Informatics and Data Analytics Chris Grasso says, “Providertech’s big vision allows us to continue expanding scalable text messaging which helps us deliver the highest quality care and improve outcomes in and beyond our communities—without overburdening our staff.” Providertech and Fenway continue to explore new ways that automated text messaging can encourage better experiences for patients while freeing up staff to care for the patients who need them the most.

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