Campus News

From Swab to Dashboard — The Journey of COVID-19 Testing Data and Reports

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 2, 2021) — Determined to start Spring 2021 safely, the university announced students would need to complete entry testing for COVID-19 as well as required ongoing testing for students throughout the spring semester. But what goes on behind the scenes to ensure testing operations run smoothly? The answer involves more than you may think. 

Let’s start with accurately defining the student populations that are required to complete COVID-19 testing. This data is defined by the Institutional Research, Analytics, & Decision Support (IRADS) team and handed over to Health Corps to begin communications on when and how to get tested. Once students, faculty and staff begin to get their COVID-19 tests, there are three major data sources feeding in test results — WildHealth, University Health Services and the Self-Report Tool. Test results from these three data sources are uploaded into a SQL Server database and fed into a Tableau report which allows IRADS to check for data that is missing information, doesn’t match up correctly, or is a duplicate result. After the test results data is validated, it is given to the Health Cloud operations team who prepares and loads the data into the Salesforce Health Cloud environment which triggers COVID cases for the Health Corps contact tracing team to start their outreach.  

If a student gets back a negative test result, an automated email is triggered via Marketing Cloud. This email sends the student their negative test result immediately to their UK email once the data is loaded into Health Cloud. If a student tests positive for COVID-19 at UK, it starts a multifaceted chain of actions that involve several departments at UK. Wellness connectors are contacted to help provide resources to those in quarantine including everything from basic needs (e.g., meals, medication, groceries) to essential technology (e.g., MiFis and devices). Representatives from Facilities, Transportation, Housing, Dining and more also join in on the effort to support those in quarantine.  

As this chain of events occur, the COVID-19 data still has one final stop. The number of tests administered and new positive cases are fed into the public-facing University of Kentucky COVID-19 Data Dashboard, which informs the university community about the overall health of the campus population.  

Since the beginning of UK’s COVID-19 response, there have been many improvements made to the data ingestion process. One example is the Self-Report Tool, which allows UK students, faculty and staff to not only report their COVID-19 test results in the event they got tested somewhere other than UK, but also whether they received the flu vaccination, or COVID-19 vaccination. Thanks to the work from Information Technology Services’ Enterprise Applications team, this tool was enhanced to automatically feed the information to the testing results database, ensuring all cases would be reported and contacted. 

It is through the dedicated work of university employees that COVID-19 testing, reporting and subsequent response continues to operate every day. Our community owes much gratitude to those who work to develop and implement strategies to keep us all safe. 

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.