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Increased COVID-19 Testing for a Safer University Environment

University of California San Diego’s Return to Learn program uses Epic to make testing available to students

The University of California San Diego will be conducting many classes virtually this fall, with about 30% of students remaining on campus with additional safety precautions. To give students a safer in-person learning environment, UC San Diego started their Return to Learn program this spring, which uses Epic to document students’ COVID-19 tests and follow up with those tested.

Participants swab their noses and drop off the swabs at designated specimen collection sites on campus. Program coordinators collect the samples to test for SARS-CoV-2. Tests and results are recorded in Epic, and students receive their test results in MyChart. Students who test positive for the virus are notified and advised to seek medical care. Program coordinators also try to identify and notify people with whom the infected person might have recently been in contact.

UC San Diego Health also uses the data collected in Epic to analyze COVID-19 trends within their community. This information helps them better understand how to effectively detect cases early and reduce transmission risk, guiding decisions regarding housing, class sizes, and classroom setup.

“We are fortunate to be in a collaborative, innovative setting where we can help monitor viral activity, mitigate risks, and implement public health interventions to prevent the spread of SARS-Cov-2,” said Dr. Robert Schooley, a professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “It’s our hope that what we accomplish at UC San Diego will also help protect the surrounding San Diego community, and provide a model for other universities.”

The initial phase of Return to Learn began in May, with testing available to the 5,000 students who were living on campus. UC San Diego will expand the program to test students, faculty, and staff on a monthly basis starting this fall.

Read more at the UC San Diego News Center. Epic community members can read more about strategies for testing and monitoring patients in the Managing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) With Epic white paper, which is updated regularly with recommended build and workflows.