Epic’s ‘MyChart’ could deliver COVID-19 test results faster than state

MADISON, Wis.– An Epic Systems program could provide a shortcut to deliver COVID-19 test results faster than waiting for the state to respond.

Every swab used at the Alliant Energy Center COVID-19 testing site doesn’t travel far. They’re sent to Exact Sciences, a molecular diagnostics company.

“Once we get tests at our lab in Madison, we have a turnaround time of within 72 hours and many are being processed faster than that,” Associate Director of Corporate Affairs at Exact Sciences Scott Larrivee said.

Exact Sciences’ results don’t end up directly with you. They go back to the state first.

It takes the state three to seven days to return COVID-19 test results after swabbed the Alliant Energy Center testing site, according to the Public Health Madison and Dane County website.

MyChart, a program designed at Verona-based Epic Systems speeds up the process by eliminating the time spent waiting for the state to receive the results from the labs and get them back to the patient.

“As soon as Exact Sciences processes that test for you, they release that result to MyChart. So, there aren’t any intermediate steps to take place, regardless of whether it’s negative or positive,” Vice President of Patient Experience at Epic Systems Sean Bina said.

To sign up for MyChart, patients need to call Exact Sciences for an activation code and enter some identifying information.

Bina said Epic and Exact Sciences is working on a way to make the sign up process easier and eliminates the need to call for an activation code for patients tested at the Alliant Energy Center COVID-19 Testing Site.

“Patients that go to the Alliant Energy testing center in the coming weeks, they’ll automatically get an email that helps them sign up for MyChart,” Bina said.

Bina said the personal information stored on MyChart will be kept safe and secure.

“Nobody would ever be able to get access to your information on MyChart,” Bina said.

This shortcut only works for labs on the Epic Systems platform. Any testing site run by the National Guard has the potential for patients to access their results through Exact Sciences’ MyChart, according to a Department of Health Services spokesperson.

“The key is that automating the process would certainly cut down (on) time, which could lead to faster results, which could get those who test positive in isolation faster, stopping the spread of the virus,” DHS spokesperson Jennifer Miller said.

It’s important to remember that those tested at a community testing site don’t need MyChart to get COVID-19 test results. The state still emails those results once they get them.

There are other places to get a COVID-19 test.

UW Health administers between 500 to 800 COVID-19 tests daily. People who are asymptomatic cannot get tested at UW Health, they’ll be directed to a community testing site. The average turnaround test time is between four to six hours, according to a UW Health spokesperson.

“You should be self-isolating. You should have a mask on at all times. You should be trying to stay away from family members or other people. You should absolutely not be going to work,” Chief Quality Officer at UW Health Dr. Jeff Pothof said. “You should act as if you have COVID-19 until that test result comes back negative.”

SSM Health administers roughly 1,000 COVID-19 tests daily. People who are asymptomatic cannot get tested at SSM Health, instead they’ll be directed to a community testing site. The average turnaround test time is about 72 hours.

“With the volume of testing that we are doing right now, 72 hours, I think is pretty efficient. We’ve learned a lot and gotten better,” Vice President of Ambulatory Clinical Programs at SSM Health Dr. David Ottenbaker said. “If people remember back in the Spring time, turnarounds at some points were a week or even longer before they were getting results.”

Both UW Health and SSM Health are on the Epic Systems platform and results can be accessed through MyChart.