Skip to main content

Sara Alert™ Academic used to securely monitor and report health emergencies on university campuses

Sara Alert Academic logo

ORAU and MITRE, a not-for-profit chartered to work in the public interest, partnered to deploy Sara Alert™ Academic, tailored specifically for university use and available by subscription. Sara Alert™ Academic was an adaptation of the original public health monitoring tool Sara Alert™.

Though the program has been discontinued, the software platform was tailored to the unique needs of universities and colleges, providing an automated workflow to allow health staff to rapidly prioritize and respond to student and staff needs. It customized what a university will need to streamline the process, such as student identification, housing information and tracking by university-specific areas, such as campus buildings or sports teams.

Students, faculty or staff with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 were enrolled into Sara Alert™ Academic by the university. Automated messages were distributed each day via text or email, and monitorees responded to these messages, reporting any symptoms they were experiencing. Universities were able to use these workflows to determine and prioritize follow-up needs, referrals for care and overall campus status.

Impact Areas

Benefits for universities

  • Rapid identification of exposed individuals, enabling university health to contain the spread.
  • Data monitoring ensures students or faculty sick with COVID-19 are immediately referred for care.
  • Ability to quickly and easily share information with public health and other stakeholders.
  • Secure information exchange that protects individuals’ data and allows for real-time updates.
  • Automation of workflow for university health staff in order to reduce burden, accelerate response, and prioritize those who need help most.

How Sara Alert Academic met universities' needs

Our experience working with ORAU has been excellent. The staff are friendly, organized and incredibly detail-oriented. Each meeting has been efficient and productive, and we have been particularly pleased with their ability to organize, maintain communication regarding, and fulfill requests that we have made to tailor the data system to our case management and contact tracing needs.

Our previous data system relied on patients to submit a daily screener to trigger a phone call from our case management staff. As a result, we lost individuals who did not submit the daily assessment to follow-up. The Sara Alert™ system also includes a daily symptom assessment, but triggers our staff to call the patient regardless of whether or not the patient completes it. This greatly enhances our ability to provide daily monitoring of isolation cases. The Sara Alert™ system also provides a much more comprehensive profile for each isolation case, offering a central location for notes, symptom trends, lab results, associated close contacts, and vaccination history. It is a much more organized interface that makes it easier for our staff to clearly guide patients on when and how to isolate safely.

The previous CNO began researching automated monitoring systems after COVID-19 arrived on campus. Her research was presented to the board and University’s Public Health Committee.  After weighing all the various reasons, the way ORAU answered all our questions, informed us we would be supported to keep our best practices, and someone would work alongside us along to ensure this would occur. Coupled with the opportunity to be a part of testing and assisting ORAU create a system that is second to none was exactly what our clinic and university was looking for. This made the decision not to use the system our state currently has an easier one to make.

ORAU’s staff take the initiative to keep detailed meeting notes, to develop a focused meeting agenda, and to identify and follow-up on action items related to the development of the data system in a very timely manner. In a time when clinics such as ours are incredibly busy with pandemic-related efforts, the ORAU staff’s organization has been extremely helpful in advancing the data system to reduce our workload.

Podcast: Sara Alert™ Academic used to securely monitor and report COVID-19 on university campuses

Sara Alert™ was developed to automate the monitoring of individuals exposed to or infected with COVID-19. In partnership with MITRE, ORAU’s goal was to leverage existing Sara Alert™ technology to protect the health of students and faculty on campus by creating a tool customized to university needs, Sara Alert™ Academic. Sara Alert™ Academic helped universities safely operate campuses through increased efficiency in tracking potential cases, leading to earlier containment of the virus and reduction of burden on resources.

Listen to the podcast

Further Together podcast logo

ORAU Media Contacts and Information

About ORAU

ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, provides science, health, and workforce solutions that address national priorities and serve the public interest. Through our specialized teams of experts and access to a consortium of more than 150 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local, and commercial customers to provide innovative scientific and technical solutions and help advance their missions. ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Media Contacts

Pam BoneeDirector, CommunicationsCell: (865) 603-5142
Wendy WestManager, CommunicationsCell: (865) 207-7953