Could Hong Kong COVID test handling capacity be↗200-300%? It is very Simple!

Hong Kong is facing the most severe outbreak of Omicron after the CNY. Amid the outbreak, the Government has adopted a series of control measures and set up 19 community testing centres to conduct testing for target groups in an endeavour to break the chain of infection via identifying and isolating the source.

Despite the government’s effort to enhance the handling capacity in the fronts, each community testing centre, with only 5 professional staff qualified to perform the swabbing, could only handle about 6,000 cases per day. On the one hand, it naturally comes to mind that recruiting more professionals for the swabbing would help boost up the handling capacity. However, in light of the urgency and any difficulty in the mobilisation of the qualified professional staff, we would propose to adopt our “LESS IS MORE model” to double or triple up the handling capacity without the need to add in extra manpower resources.

The government often turns to medical experts with sufficient knowledge of the disease itself for assistance in the pandemic situation. However, when it comes to the entire testing process and proceedings and the enhancement of the overall testing efficiency instead of solely the test itself, professionals in the corresponding field of expertise (i.e. Process Improvement) would be more appropriate.

Ir Dr Aaron TONG Wai-Kwok, our Managing Director, recently went through the whole testing process himself at Wo Hing Community Hall/ Testing Centre and had meticulously looked into the entire cycle. Left alone the waiting and registration time, Ir Dr TONG observed that the professional staff’s processing time within each testing ward is the critical factor to the handling capacity. Typically, it has taken 30 sec to complete one test in the ward currently, depicted per below.

At the first glance, could you think of any improvement opportunities in the process?

To begin with, what is the core function/ duty of the professional staff? Nasal and Throat Swabbing! Other than the swabbing tasks, should the preparation work and follow-ups, including verifying the patient’s identity and handling the sample bottles, be handled by other assistants/ the patients themselves outside the ward? Just this reassignment of duties could significantly reduce the processing time of the professional staff by 50%! In other words, this simple rearrangement could double the handling capacity of each centre (from 6,000 12,000!)

Wait, didn’t we say it is possible to even triple it? Before we go into details for further diagnosis and solutions, we would love to know your thoughts on this matter. Feel free to share it with us!

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