Stanford Medicine offers high-priority COVID-19 testing and new app to first responders

Stanford Medicine is offering high-priority COVID-19 testing and a new screening and informational app, built with the support of Apple, to local police, firefighters and paramedics.

- By Amy Jeter Hansen

A new app, called the First Responder COVID-19 Guide, is designed to help first responders screen their symptoms and, if needed, schedule a testing appointment at Stanford Health Care.

Stanford Health Care has begun offering priority drive-through COVID-19 testing to police, firefighters and paramedics in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

To serve frontline providers, Stanford Medicine also introduced a new app, called the First Responder COVID-19 Guide, which was built with the support of Apple to help these first responders screen their symptoms and, if needed, schedule a testing appointment. The app, which uses Apple’s ResearchKit and CareKit frameworks, includes trustworthy, up-to-date information about COVID-19 from Stanford experts.

The goal is to ensure that first responders can efficiently access needed medical care while working under the safest possible conditions during the coronavirus outbreak. In the future, Stanford hopes to expand high-priority testing to frontline essential service workers, such as grocery store clerks and public service personnel, and to help first responders in other counties connect to one of Stanford Medicine’s seven outpatient testing facilities across the Bay Area.

“Our researchers were among the first in the nation to develop and deploy our own COVID-19 test, a rapid response that has equipped Stanford Medicine with a crucial tool for protecting and caring for patients during this pandemic,” said Robert Harrington, MD, professor and chair of medicine. “We are pleased to have the support from Apple to further bolster our shared community by offering testing and a new app. We want to reinforce our support for frontline workers whose tireless efforts benefit us all during this challenging time.”

Priya Singh, chief strategy officer and senior associate dean at Stanford Medicine, said, “With these apps, under the leadership of Michael Halaas, our deputy chief information officer, we’re expanding the reach of our expertise to provide answers for people who are busy serving others during this crisis. It’s our hope that this technology will ease some of the burden for people on the front lines, and will help inform those who seek a reliable source on COVID-19.”

Using the screening portion of the app, first responders can complete a questionnaire about their symptoms, exposure to the coronavirus and medical history. If, based on the answers, the app recommends testing, the first responder then communicates this to his or her agency’s department infection control officer, who will work with Stanford Health Care to schedule the testing appointment. First responders do not need to be Stanford Health Care patients to access the testing.

All responses and results are securely stored in the first responder’s device, though the first responder may choose to share them with a health provider. And first responders will be able to access Stanford Medicine’s high-priority testing, if needed, through their agency’s department infection control officer instead of the app. There are about 8,000 first responders in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

“Our outpatient testing has connected thousands of patients in our community with the medical care they need, while also helping to contain this dangerous pandemic,” said Megan Mahoney, MD, professor and chief of general primary care. “By extending high-priority testing to our local first responders, we’re ensuring that this important population knows they have our unwavering support.”

Stanford Health Care began offering drive-through COVID-19 testing in early March. Now, seven locations provide the service, including a new site at the Galvez parking lot on the Stanford University campus. The new site has the capacity for 10 car lanes and will operate on a largely empty campus, as Stanford has canceled events, suspended activities and services, moved classes online, and asked undergraduate students to return to their homes if they are able.

“First responders are the individuals who continue to be out in the field serving our community and continue to be exposed to individuals with the virus,” said Catherine Krna, vice president of ambulatory care and service lines at Stanford Health Care and chief administrative officer of University HealthCare Alliance. “Our communities look to them to provide stability and order, and we as a health care system have an obligation to keep them safe as they work to protect us all.”

To date, more than 3,000 patients have been tested for the coronavirus through Stanford Health Care’s outpatient testing facilities; together, the health care system’s sites have the capacity for 2,500 patients a day.

Samples are processed through Stanford’s Clinical Virology Laboratory, which developed an in-house diagnostic test that has been used by health care systems throughout the Bay Area. Results typically are available within nine hours. Patients who are not established with Stanford Health Care are asked to register to ensure efficient receipt of their results. Those seeking COVID-19 testing should call 650-498-9000 to speak with a nurse, who will assess the next step for their care.

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit

2024 ISSUE 1

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