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Tool helps determine need for COVID-19 testing

March 19, 2020

Dietitian Day

AHS’ new COVID-19 tool asks questions about symptoms and takes users through steps to help determine whether they should call Health Link at 811 for testing.

Tool asks questions on symptoms, shares steps to determine whether you should call 811 for testing

Story by Kathryn Kranenburg

A simple online assessment tool to help people decide whether they need to be tested for COVID-19 was launched by Alberta Health Services (AHS) last Friday.

The tool asks questions about symptoms and takes users through steps to help determine whether they should call Health Link at 811 for testing. As of Tuesday, March 17, people have taken the assessment more than one million times.

“AHS teams have come together to ensure we are protecting each other and keeping Albertans healthy and safe. Health Link is an important tool for Albertans right now,” says AHS President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu.

“Our staff are working to respond quickly to those who need to be assessed for COVID-19. This tool has helped us reduce call volumes, keep the lines open for those with serious symptoms and reassure those Albertans who don’t need testing right now.”

The tool helps people decide whether they need a swab to determine if they have COVID-19, without leaving their home, which can help us further contain the spread.

AHS continues to work with other health jurisdictions to support them in developing a similar tool and have shared the tool with the health systems in Saskatchewan, Yukon, Nunavut, PEI, Ontario and the Canadian Armed Forces. AHS has also had inquiries from outside of Canada, has learned that other health jurisdictions are looking to use it in other parts of the world.

AHS is now working to add to the tool to allow those who are recommended for COVID-19 testing to be automatically referred to assessment centres. AHS aims to launch that part of the tool in the coming days.