In early 2020, with hospitals around the UK in danger of becoming overrun, the UK government recognised the need to act. The mantra of ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’ was born as public health officials and ministers were laying out the measures they saw as necessary to control the pandemic. The most immediate across-the-board consensus was the need to vastly expand the nation’s COVID-19 testing and contact tracing capacity — to millions per day — and to do it fast.
The ability to take prompt action on the back of positive results was central to breaking chains of transmission and saving lives. The longer the time required to process results, the greater the potential for virus transmission.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) engaged IBM to deliver a strategic integration platform to slash the time for processing test results, and which could be reliably scaled to process up to 6 million test results per day. IBM formed a joint, multidisciplinary team — using the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform — to build a Software as a Service (SaaS) integration platform called the Real-Time Test Service (RTTS) to process all COVID-19 test results for onward contact tracing.
This strategic platform, implemented in 8 weeks, sits at the heart of the UKHSA landscape, facilitating a wide range of capability from rapid contact tracing to international arrivals and tracking variants of concern, protecting the lives of 67m citizens across the UK.
Through implementation of the Real Time Test Service, UKHSA was able to commence contact tracing of infected citizens nearly 8 hours sooner post infection, significantly reducing the time where potentially infected contacts were circulating in society, reducing onward infection and undoubtedly saving lives.
Further releases of the service facilitated: the capability to manage quarantine compliance and enforcement for over 20 million international arrivals; enabling workers to return to work through the processing and matching of negative confirmatory test results and vaccination status to individuals; providing the capability for private test providers to upload COVID-19 test results to more effectively track and manage the virus. All of which enabling life to return closer to normal.
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