COVID-19 test results now available through text message

September 10, 2020

Positive results also added to existing autodialer system

CALGARY – Albertans can now receive their COVID-19 test results — either positive or negative — through an SMS text message or an automated phone call.

Individuals who book a COVID-19 test through ahs.ca/covid or drop in for testing at an AHS assessment centre can now choose to get their results through these methods. Anyone who does not consent to receiving results via text message or through an automated phone call will instead receive their results through a call from an AHS team member.

As part of standard contact tracing process, all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will also be contacted by phone by a member of the AHS Public Health team, for further follow-up and support.

“Providing Albertans with both positive and negative COVID-19 test results through text message and automated phone calls will significantly reduce wait times for test results,” says Minister of Health Tyler Shandro. “We have heard Albertans’ concerns and responded.”

AHS expects the SMS text message and autodialer systems will decrease the time it takes for Albertans to receive their result, after being swabbed, by a full day.

“It is important that anyone who is tested for COVID-19 receive the results as soon as possible, particularly those with a positive result,” says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “I encourage all Albertans who arrange for a COVID-19 test to allow the text or autodialer system to provide their results. That way, you will have the benefit of this critical information as soon as it is available.”

The AHS autodialer system has delivered negative results to more than 500,000 Albertans since its launch in April. Using automated phone calls to notify Albertans of positive results, and addition of text message functionality, is expected to shorten turnaround times for test results and protect public safety.

“With faster delivery of test results, individuals with COVID-19 can begin self-isolation sooner, reducing the risk of transmission to others,” says Dr. Laura MacDougall, AHS Senior Medical Officer of Health. “This will help Alberta limit the spread of COVID-19.”

Albertans who opt for an SMS text message are advised that results are texted any time within a 24-hour period, seven days a week. Automated phone calls are made between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., seven days a week.

Parents and guardians will also be able to consent to receive automated test results for dependents (aged 17 years and younger). Each individual test result will be delivered by a dedicated call or text. This might mean that multiple calls or texts are delivered to a single number provided for a family unit.

Albertans 14 years of age and older can also access test results online through MyHealth Records, a secure Alberta government service. Albertans need to sign up for a MyAlberta Digital ID to use this service.

“I am so proud of the tremendous dedication and commitment the AHS teams have to improving care for Albertans,” says AHS President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu. “Getting this project off the ground so quickly and effectively took tremendous teamwork and collaboration.”

All Albertans who receive negative results are advised to visit ahs.ca/results for direction on steps they still need to take to continue to keep themselves and their families healthy.

Testing is available to all Albertans. Whether symptomatic or not: visit ahs.ca/covid, to book testing online. For more information on COVID-19 test results, visit www.ahs.ca/results

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.