Slowing the Covid-19 pandemic through the detection and tracing of positive cases in France using a secure national platform for recording and transmitting test results.
Implementation – in only 2 months – of a scalable monitoring and prevention tool that plays a crucial role in France’s public health policy.
The IT heart of SI-DEP – France’s national Covid-19 screening platform
As part of the pandemic management in France, detecting and tracing Covid-19 cases is critical for a successful recovery from the crisis and the protection of the French people. This is the purpose of the national SI-DEP (Système d’Informations de DEPistage) project implemented by the French Ministry of Health and Solidarity, which selected and commissioned Clinisys | MIPS, in partnership with the AP-HP hospital group, for this task. The CyberLab electronic order entry and result consultation system is at the heart of SI-DEP’s IT platform.
Today, nearly 400 healthcare enterprises (hospitals and regional hospital groups) and some 4500 private laboratories are connected to the platform, feeding it with test results from the entire country every day. Many French university hospitals and regional hospitals have also benefited from the integration to the CyberLab order entry solution with their own laboratory information system (LIS).
In the first phase, only PCR results were transmitted to the SI-DEP platform. Later, serological tests were added, and then antigen tests. Since mid-November 2020, pharmacists, nurses and independent doctors have been able to enter information into the platform, and also directly access the results of their patients’ tests via the CyberLab user interface. From 2022 onwards, the volume reaches 4,400,000 tests per day (self-tests not included). Test results are transmitted to patients and their requestors, as well as to the central shared medical record (DMP).
Identify, test, isolate
Putting in place a large-scale virological screening at the national level, in order to control and limit a pandemic rebound and to accurately steer the momentum of contamination throughout the country, requires the ability to identify, test and isolate patients and their contacts. This high-priority public interest mission is covered by the SI-DEP project, based on a partnership between the French Ministry of Health and Solidarity, the AP-HP (Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris hospital group) and the French public health authority (Santé publique France), together with medical laboratories and laboratory information system providers.
In order to digitise this screening process, SI-DEP offers a secure platform for the registration and transmission of Covid-19 test results, making it possible to ensure the proper handling of positive cases. Through the real-time, comprehensive and immediate collection of results, it aims to break the chain of contamination.
For this project, with its extremely tight deadlines, the Ministry of Health and Solidarity selected Clinisys | MIPS and its CyberLab solution, which enables the laboratories to manage the test orders and the communication of results to patients who test positive, in a smooth, reliable, transparent and secure way.
With its ability to interface with all laboratory information systems (LIS), its ease of deployment via a web application, and its capacity to process large volumes across multiple facilities, CyberLab met the extraordinary requirements of the project, and thus became the heart of the SI-DEP architecture. Clinisys | MIPS also had proven experience in this field in Belgium, where the CyberLab solution has already been used in a similar context for the national testing platform.
The SI-DEP project went live on 13th May 2020, handling some 50,000 test results per day in the early stages. Over time, this has gradually grown to more than 3,500,000 daily tests, and the number is due to increase further.
The project is structured around four primary functions:
- Providing a multi-facility, multi-LIS electronic requesting tool.
- Centralising all results from PCR and serological screening across the entire country (public and private) in a national database. Data is hosted by AP-HP and all operational handling is carried out in compliance with the GDPR and the French National Commission on Information Technology and Liberties (CNIL).
- Enabling secure sharing of results with requestors and patients (who can thus immediately take preventative measures), and the implementation of unique QR activation codes for the French TousAntiCovid application.
- Providing quality, consolidated and pseudonymised data in real time for the French public health authority (Santé publique France), the Directorate for Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (DREES) and the Health Data Hub platform, for statistical and epidemiological monitoring purposes.
Since the beginning of 2022, test results have also been transmitted to the shared medical file (DMP), the new digital public service for managing health data open to the entire population in France.
During the first stage of the project, the public facilities, especially the university hospitals, equipped with a high-throughput extraction system, were connected to the SI-DEP platform. These automated systems provided significant support for the rapid capacity increase of all the laboratories equipped to carry out Covid-19 RT-PCR tests.
In the second stage, all French laboratories, private and public, were integrated with the national platform, including 400 healthcare providers (hospitals and regional hospital groups) and around 4,500 private laboratories.
Today, there are around 290,000 active users of CyberLab within the context of the SI-DEP project, including laboratories, public institutions, pharmacists, doctors and nurses.
Generating proof of testing
In 2021, the European Commission introduced the digital Health Pass, in order to support the broader resumption of travel between European Union countries. This calls for the implementation of proof of testing, to verify a positive or negative result for the virus (antigen or PCR testing).
Within the SI-DEP platform, CyberLab is the sole application generating this proof of Covid-19 testing for the entire country of France, in the form of a certified QR code that will be valid in all European countries, as well as for domestic events that require proof of testing.
- After the laboratory test, whether the result is positive or negative, the patient receives an SMS or email generated by CyberLab, from which they can download the proof of testing.
- The patient can also use the CyberLab portal to access their proof of testing, in the form of a QR code.
- With the click of a button, the patient may import the QR code in the TousAntiCovid app, which since 19th April has integrated the TousAntiCovid Carnet. This digital log stores the proof of Covid-19 testing and the vaccination status of the person creating the Health Pass.
John Lebon, CEO of Clinisys | MIPS
Clinisys | MIPS has successfully delivered a solution for national Covid-19 testing platforms, in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, in record time and under exceptional conditions, thanks to the commitment of all Clinisys | MIPS employees in France and Belgium. We are very proud to be supporting the healthcare professionals who are striving to keep the health crisis under control.