At the height of COVID-19, vaccination questions from patients and providers were all the talk as healthcare facilities awaited their arrival for distribution. When are vaccinations available in my area? What are the age limits? How far apart can both doses be administered? Jump forward to December 2021, and booster questions started trickling into the conversation. Fast forward yet again to just a few weeks ago, and pediatric vaccination questions are joining the mix. 

There’s no question that COVID-19 vaccinations are top of mind for providers and patients. Alongside these vaccinations, over 904 million coronavirus tests, including PCR laboratory, Rapid NAAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test) and Rapid Antigen tests have already been administered. Community-based testing sites at pharmacies and health centers began popping up nationwide to help with the influx. In addition, at-home test kits started becoming available about a year into the pandemic. As of March 2022, the United States Postal System has delivered 270 million at-home test kits to American households.

What is eTest Results Delivery, and For What Can it Be Used?

Electronic tests, or eTests, have been defined by The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) as a way for “enabl[ing] laboratories and healthcare providers to exchange standardized test orders directly and results across different facilities and electronic information systems using agreed-upon standards.” eTest results safely notify patients of lab results faster with HIPAA-compliant messages. 

With healthcare shortages contributing to physician burnout, automation tools have helped alleviate manual steps for front-office providers while improving the patient experience. In one case study, Fenway Health increased COVID-19 testing volume due to freed up staff time with Providertech’s eTest Results solution. The health center believes that the automated delivery has decreased the time it takes for patients to receive a test result from days to minutes. Eighty percent of people tested viewed the automated texts within the first 15 minutes.

COVID-19 Test Results Nationwide Requirements Causing Massive Upheaval in Resources

During the height of COVID-19, negative test results were required for everything from businesses to schools to interstate and cruise ship travel. Therefore, employing digital technology to streamline the delivery of COVID-19 test results was vital. 

Depending on the state, up until a few months ago, patients may have been required to show negative test results, vaccination paperwork or both. For businesses and schools nationwide, proof of a negative test result was needed before patients were allowed to enter facilities after close contact exposure to COVID-19. In addition, negative test results or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 were required for those flying internationally until June 12, 2022. As of this writing, negative COVID-19 test results are still being mandated for cruise ship travel for patients to present within one to two days of the boarding.

Utilizing eTest Results Beyond COVID-19 for Positive Healthcare Experiences

According to the most recent U.S. COVID-19 statistical data on individuals tested for COVID-19, nine percent were positive. In just the past seven days (as of this writing), 39,177 tests were administered in Arizona alone. Compared to the week of January 9, 2022, current test numbers show a 92 percent decrease. But, as we begin to shift to a world where plexiglass shields are coming down, social distancing signs are being put into storage and face mask regulations are tentatively easing, we also need to shift the conversation on electronic test results delivery being utilized for far more than just COVID-19.

eTest results are a keystone virtual automation tool for securing a positive healthcare experience. They can improve access with tools patients are already using in their language preference to shorten wait times, reduce unnecessary office visits, lessen phone tag and streamline virtual follow-up after results delivery. Before and beyond COVID-19, providers have been using eTest results delivery for many chronic conditions.

Providers can use eTest results delivery for:

  • Influenza and complete respiratory panel (influenza + RSV)
  • Diabetic screenings, including HbA1c
  • Cancer screenings, including breast, cervical and colorectal screenings 
  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD) including BUN, Creatinine, GFR
  • Thyroid disease (TD) including TSH, T3, T4
  • Cardiovascular diseases including HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol
  • Sexual health screenings including GC, chlamydia 
  • Medication therapy that requires routine lab monitoring
  • Routine health screenings
  • Diagnostic tests

The Problems with eTest Results Within Patient Portals

Not all eTest delivery results tools are the same. For example, for providers using portals to deliver test results, only 15 percent of hospital patients and 30 percent of other providers’ patients are accessing the portals. 

Almost half of patients think portal interfaces are too confusing, and over one-third are frustrated by a lack of staff response via the technology. Also, for first-time patients only needing one test result from a specialty office, the hassle of registering in a patient portal may be too high of a threshold. Forgotten usernames and passwords, the need for patient portal app downloads and a reliable internet connection are the roots of frustration for patients looking to learn test results within a patient portal. 

The Providertech CareCommunity Solution

Providertech created a scalable, efficient and secure solution for eTest results that safely notifies patients of lab results with HIPAA-compliant text messages. eTest results delivery can be customized to send only positive, negative, or all results. As a result, CareCommunity allows patients to access the information they need to understand their test results and clear, immediate next steps to take, including recommended follow-up care and rescreening timelines. 

With customization options, patients can access HIPAA-compliant text message results in their native cell phone texting app. They can simultaneously view results in their language preference and obtain multiple test results. In addition, Providertech offers a truly unique option – patients can easily and securely view and print PDF copies of test results. This is especially helpful for patients wanting to file a hardcopy of their results, bring it in person to their care network team or use it for any additional services.

Providers can immediately deliver test results with an integrated solution that compliments electronic health record (EHR) systems. In addition to sending results to patients, CareCommunity also writes back to the EHR system with a date and time stamp for when results were delivered. This one-of-a-kind feature has saved front-office providers countless hours documenting that results were successfully transmitted to patients. 

For difficult-to-integrate EHRs, including eClinical Works (ECW), CareCommunity has a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) flat-file integration to Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) for automated results. 

Learn More About CareCommunity

Providertech offers a fully customizable solution that works for medium to large healthcare organizations. 

With CareCommunity, you can:

  • Reduce phone time by 78 percent
  • Deliver results 100 percent in real-time
  • Increase appointment efficiencies with a 30 percent increase

Read more about CareCommunity here.