The More Efficient Way to Build Contact Tracing Programs

by Lamees Abourahma


States all across the U.S. are briskly moving to hire hundreds and thousands of contact tracers very rapidly. According to a recent NPR story, states nearly doubled their plans for contact tracers within a ten-day period. As states ramp up to build their contact tracing programs in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus and reopen the country, they are faced with monumental challenges. RPO offers a unique solution for building a contact tracing workforce. 

Contact tracing and follow-up procedures were pivotal in constraining the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the Ebola outbreak in Africa in 2014. The CDC ran and managed a contact tracing workforce of about 2,200. With the coronavirus pandemic, the states now need to build their own contact tracing program and hire a sizable workforce of contact tracers. 

“There are so many new challenges that states are facing in relation to their knowledge or lack thereof of the digital tools that are available to them,” said Curtis Grajeda, CEO of LevelUP Human Capital Solutions (HCS). “If you think about it, we're talking about states, local municipalities and counties that don't necessarily have such huge hiring volume year over year,” Grajeda added. States typically have static hiring volumes with a fixed budget. 

"Recruitment Process Outsourcing is the perfect solution for this type of rapid growth," said Grajeda. His company, a New York-based talent solution and HR advisory company, is supporting the recruitment of contact tracers, community support specialists, and team supervisors that will make up New York State’s contact tracing pilot program. Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) firms, like LevelUP, are uniquely qualified and ready to help states around the country with their contact tracing programs.

Why is Contact Tracing Important?

Contract tracing is the identification and follow-up of individuals who have had contact(s) with infectious individuals. It's a vital process to ensure the highest possible chance of control.

Contact tracing encompasses the “support aspect of the people who have actually contracted the virus and being quarantined,” explains Grajeda. “We want to help ensure that they're safe. We want to help ensure that they're in a sustainable environment, where they have everything they need from nourishment to medical care,” Grajeda said. “This is important because it helps limit and prevent the additional transmission of the virus.”

Contact tracing will be extremely important in the summer. During the summer months, contact tracers can find out who's exposed, who's contracted the virus, and with whom the infected have come into contact. Also, a contact tracing program will be pivotal in preparing for a potential second wave of coronavirus in the fall

RPOs are here to help states put in place a proactive plan to contain COVID-19 in the summer and limit its potential spread in the fall. 

Understanding the Challenges

New York is attempting to build one of the largest contact tracing programs in the country. Because the coronavirus hit New York the hardest, it's vital that the city and the state quickly increase its contact tracing workforce.  

With this massive scale of hiring, problems inevitably occur. Oregon is having difficulty filling contact tracer positions with qualified candidates. While in Massachusetts, the state put together a team of 1,000 contact tracers. Still, as the number of coronavirus cases kept increasing, the number of instances outstripped the number of contact tracing workers hired.

Grajeda highlighted a few key challenges in building a workforce of contact tracers. “There has been a few key hurdles that the states have had to face including 1) embracing and adopting technology, 2) being able to scale very quickly to meet the numbers of the contact traces that are needed per state, and ultimately 3) the management of this entire workforce.” 

Grajeda applauded the CDC  for doing a tremendous job in promoting the contact tracing program throughout the States “They've been a tremendous leader, and partner, in being able to build guidelines.” He emphasized that contact tracing will be critical for re-opening the country. The success of the program will depend on “having the right people, having the right technology, and managing the program and performance,” Grajeda said.

rpo uniquely qualified to build a contact tracing workforce

RPO Uniquely Qualified to Build a Contact Tracing Workforce

As each state around the country plans to fill hundreds of contact tracing roles, they'll need to adopt new technology, adjust on the fly to meet changing hiring targets, and efficiently manage the entire contact tracing workforce. And working with an RPO partner is as Grajeda puts it, "A more efficient way to hire talent in public sectors."

RPOs function as a proactive managed service. This makes RPOs uniquely qualified to help states hire large volumes of contact tracers and manage the contact tracing program. They are positioned to work hand in hand with local government agencies to ensure each county and municipality has the right resources on a day-to-day basis. 

RPOs function as a true partner. As Grajeda explains, “We're actually in the leadership calls on a daily basis. We're getting real-time data, real-time feedback, about how we need to pivot and move for that day to meet the goals”. 

RPOs are agile by nature and can scale up or down in response to hiring needs. As the demand for contact tracers fluctuates based on the number of infected individuals, RPOs pivot constantly. “My team from New York State has tripled in size since we began the program based on the data,” said Grajeda. “It's our ability to scale to meet the demand and the resources in a proactive manner in a true partnership capacity has really been the key separators [for RPO],” Grajeda added.

RPO is completely customizable with respect to the services offered. Grajeda explained that depending on the organization, an RPO can be “Holistic, or end-to-end, meaning the RPO provider is doing the recruiting, the hiring, the performance management, the time tracking, so it's a complete, outsourced solution”. Several of our clients want us to be engaged like the New York State, where we're here to source, select, and show an amazing experience for the candidate, and drive them towards the offer stage

RPOs are also technology savvy and strategy consultants. “We're well equipped to be able to manage contact tracer hiring because of our tech platforms,” said Grajeda. With many tech providers introducing contact tracing software into the marketplace, including big players like Google and Apple, RPOs stay informed on tech and advise their clients on the best tools to use. “It's very important that whatever digital tools that we're going to utilize, it is going to ensure all the privacy considerations necessary, so that the adoption of the tech platform and the program is very high,” emphasized Grajeda. 

As the economy reopens, RPOs will play a large part in containing the coronavirus. The proactive, collaborative, responsive, and agile nature of RPOs will allow states to meet the workforce requirements of effective contact tracing programs. 

For general information about RPO, please download our guide: What the Bleep is Recruitment Process Outsourcing?

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