Screen4, one of the UK’s leading providers of health screening services, has partnered with Safe4 and S4Encrypt to help to automate the processing of Covid-19 tests purchased from its website.
As one of the world’s top drug and alcohol screening services for the travel sector, with operations in 140 locations across 40 countries, Screen4 was well placed to offer Covid-19 testing facilities when the pandemic started to have an impact in the UK. From its Barnsley, Yorkshire, premises it can process in excess of 3,000 Covid-19 tests per day, in conjunction with Oncologica, a testing laboratory based in Cambridge.
Contact began in June 2020
The first contact between S4Encrypt, Safe4 sister company, and Screen4 took place on 23 June 2020, by which time the UK was in a state of lockdown and reeling from the effects of the Coronavirus. This quickly led to technical discussions between Safe4 and the technology partners of Screen4, with the intention of integrating the process for receiving orders for Covid-19 tests with the use of the Safe4 vault as a means of delivering the test result to the end customer.
Alistair Stubbs, Safe4 CTO, came up with a solution design based on the use of the system’s existing capabilities in conjunction with a new Safe4 object type – the Event. This allowed each individual test – the Safe4 Event – to be associated with one or more customers who would each become users of the system.
How the Covid-19 testing process works
The primary requirement arose from the close association that Screen4 had built up with the travel sector, and focused on the need for pre-travel testing. Many countries had determined that before anyone would be permitted to enter from abroad, the passenger would have to provide evidence of a negative PCR test for Covid-19.
Several airlines, including TUI, Virgin Atlantic and Qantas, as well as P&O Ferries, now direct passengers buying travel tickets to the Screen4 website, where Covid-19 PCR tests can be purchased. These include both self-administered and clinician-collected tests. The Screen4 internal systems then send data to Safe4 through the API, triggering the creation of a vault and an invitation for the traveler to create a user account.
After confirmation of the test, including time and location in the case of clinician-collected tests, the user is prompted to use their vault to record the barcode on the sample vial that is used to carry the PCR swab to the laboratory in Cambridge. This unique code also captures the precise time and date of entering the barcode, essential for the calculation of the pre-flight hours for the destination country: either 48 or 72 hours. After analysis of the samples by the laboratory the test results are transferred automatically to each individual’s vault. Safe4 then notifies the traveler that the result is available and produces a PDF certificate confirming the traveler’s details and the test result, which can be shown both on departure and arrival to satisfy the requirements of the destination country.
The e-wallet and the QR Code
In addition to the certificate, which can be downloaded to a computer or a smartphone, Safe4 also creates a pass that can be added to the e-wallet on most modern phones. Both the certificate and the pass carry a QR code that, when scanned, displays a page from the secure Safe4 website allowing independent verification of the test result.
The way forward
Safe4, S4Encrypt and Screen4 are looking at enhancements of the service to include different types of test, as well as exploring the capability of the solution to capture evidence of a vaccination. This can be linked with an identity verification function that will capture a photograph of the individual, for additional validation of the traveler and the test or vaccination status. This Immunity Passport facility will help the travel industry to start to resume pre-pandemic levels of activity.
David Grouse, Managing Director of Screen4, believes that the association with S4Encrypt and the use of the Safe4 vault can help to achieve higher volumes and faster customer service. David believes that “the addition of the vault capability to deliver Covid-19 test results rapidly to our customers is helping us to streamline our operations and increase throughput, as well as bringing the result to the travelling customer more quickly and securely.”
Ben Martin, director of both Safe4 and S4Encrypt, is delighted with the progress that has been made. He feels that “working closely with Screen4 has been a very productive process for us. We are conscious of the importance of handling the Covid-19 test process as quickly and efficiently as possible, bearing in mind the health consequences for the customer and the need to get our economy functioning again quickly. Using the system as an irrefutable means of proving vaccination status in the future will also help all of us to move towards an end to the disruption that everyone has suffered during the pandemic.”
The high level of security provided by the Safe4 vault is crucial to ensure that the personal health data being handled throughout the process is managed as safely as possible. Safe4 complies fully with the UK Data Protection Act 2018, incorporating the European GDPR. All the information captured in the service is held in UK-only data centres accredited to ISO 27001.
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