State’s Historic “Tech SWAT” Initiative Already Producing Positive Results
The New York State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) today outlined a new self-screening and test scheduling tool developed with support from Microsoft that has allowed individuals throughout the state to assess various symptoms and risk factors associated with COVID-19 to better determine whether or not they need a medical test for the virus. The tool was developed to solve a critical need of getting critical information to New Yorkers and connecting them to state COVID testing resources while reducing strain on the broader healthcare system.
The new tool (https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing) is among the initial group of projects completed as part of an historic relationship between New York State and leading technology companies across the country in response to the state’s COVID-19 outbreak.
The overall “Tech SWAT” initiative, launched on March 24, is a comprehensive and rapid response vehicle designed to ensure New Yorkers continue to receive essential government services during this unprecedented time, as well as accurate and timely information that allows them to make more informed decisions that help keep themselves and their families safe.
The screening tool includes a series of questions that guides New York State residents through state protocols and interim guidance to help them assess whether or not they should be tested for COVID-19, including demographic information or the type of contact they have had with others who may be exposed. For example, users are asked if they are healthcare workers or engaging in other occupations with increased potential exposure to COVID-19, if they have been in direct contact with someone who was exposed, or if they recently traveled or visited a nursing home.
In addition, the tool asks users to identify if they are exhibiting certain symptoms of the virus – such as cough, fever, shortness of breath or other symptoms based on state guidance – or if they have other underlying illnesses that could result in a more serious or life-threatening outcome if they contract the illness.
More than 100,000 New Yorkers have already utilized the self-screening and scheduling tool, with future iterations of the platform focusing on improving the user experience and scaling to meet emerging testing needs.
“This is the first result of Microsoft’s ongoing relationship with New York State to tackle the immediate challenges posed by COVID-19. This crisis requires that public and private sector partners work together, and we thank the State for its leadership in bringing together technology leaders to address New York’s urgent needs,” said Toni Townes-Whitley, President of U.S. Regulated Industries at Microsoft. “Microsoft will continue to lend its support to this effort and mobilize our teams to assist with critical crisis response work.”
The overall “Tech SWAT” initiative is focused on making improvements or modernizations in the wake of COVID across several areas:
- Digital infrastructure for COVID testing and scheduling
- Improvement of remote and digital access to social services severely impacted by COVID-19
- Enhancing the delivery of digital content and public health guidance
- Technology support for operational efficiency of field staff across emergency centers, field hospitals, and volunteers.
Since the “Tech SWAT” program was first launched, the state has received thousands of offers of assistance from leading technologists and technology companies throughout the country.
More information on “Tech SWAT” can be found here: https://www.ny.gov/programs/new-york-state-covid-19-technology-swat-team