December 10, 2020

NIH-Funded Team Releases Online Tool to Help Organizations Plan COVID-19 Testing

A team led by the Consortia for Improving Medicine with Innovation and Technology of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and researchers from MIT have developed an online tool, the COVID-19 Testing Impact Calculator, intended to help organizations model the costs and benefits of COVID-19 testing strategies. The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funded this project.

The online calculator is a free resource that businesses, schools, and other organizations can use to assist them in choosing a COVID-19 testing strategy that will work best for their specific needs. According to NIH’s press release, it is the first online tool in the U.S. that provides schools and businesses with clear guidance on risk-reducing behaviors and testing to help them stay open safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The calculator prompts users to enter information about their organization’s operations, including the number of people usually onsite, the percentage of those who reliably wear masks, and whether the organization has a COVID-19 contact tracing program. More details can be added if the user wishes. The tool then estimates the costs and compares the tradeoffs in speed and accuracy of four different testing options. The calculator also suggests how users can lower their testing costs—for example, by implementing countermeasures such as masks, contact tracing, and social distancing.

A detailed user guide is available on the calculator’s website. Learn more about the project in NIH’s press release.