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OSDH: Old technology led to COVID-19 testing delays

Posted at 9:39 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-18 00:54:54-04

An alarming report from the Oklahoma State Health Department—your coronavirus test results are being delayed because of old technology.

That’s right—we’re in the middle of a pandemic—and the OSDH said it’s relying on faxes and manual data entry to get results back.

One doctor offering COVID-19 testing at his own private clinic spoke about this report—obviously disappointed with the news, but knew this was already a problem from the state’s health department.

Just before 5 p.m. on a Friday—the department released a statement saying it’s struggling to get test results and critical data processed due to an antiquated system.

COVID-19 testing that occurs at urgent care clinics, health care provider offices, retailers and pharmacies are sent out of state and can take several days for the OSDH to receive results, typically by fax. The OSDH acute disease services team manually enters test results as they are reported to the agency, which is time consuming and can delay the process of data reporting and contact tracing.

Dr. Jayen Patel with the Oklahoma Pain and Wellness Center in Tulsa has run 4,000 tests of his own. He said these issues the state is facing is nothing new.

"Let’s rewind pre-pandemic. If any Oklahoman had to guess in 50 states how we rank in health care, most people would say that we’re in the bottom five percent," Dr. Patel said. "So, is it any surprise we aren’t prepared? Not really. So, as physicians we haven’t really depended on the Oklahoma State Health Department for much guidance, technology, because of nuances in healthcare, and this isn’t a place where we’re going to start either. We are antiquated in technology. We’re antiquated in software. We’re antiquated in personnel who run the place,”

OSDH said it testing 2,000 people everyday. It also said it is working for more permanent fixes to the data delays and hoping to use the CARES Act funding to fix the antiquated technology.

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