Please briefly describe the initiative, what issue or challenge it aims to address and specify its objectives (300 words maximum)
The System of Records of the State Sanitary Inspection (“SEPIS”) is an IT tool launched in October 2020, developed for the State Sanitary Inspection of Poland (hereinafter called “the PIS” or “the Inspection”) – a public health institution focused on protecting human health from adverse environmental impacts, as well as disease prevention, including infectious and occupational diseases.
The SEPIS project is an API-based data entry system that provides digital process support. It is a universal communication platform for the entire PIS, used to collect and manage high-quality data. It is also an innovative analytical tool for the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate (GIS) – the Inspection’s headquarters.
Currently, SEPIS is used in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to its:
• integration with other state systems and real-time information exchange,
• implementation and development of “one-click” processes, reducing the time to break the chain of infection,
• standardization of epidemiological interviews conducted every day by 16 000 employees of the Inspection,
• flexible, multi-faceted communication with citizens (website form, helpline, mobile application, Inspection employee),
• high efficiency of citizens’ requests completion – during the highest number of daily infections, 82% of tasks in SEPIS were carried out within 3 hours from the moment of notification,
• access to advanced Business Intelligence analytics for key decision makers, built on the basis of global Microsoft Power BI tools,
• multilingual virtual stations, giving the possibility of conducting epidemiological interviews in 7 foreign languages,
• addition of modules, such as: register of citizen reports, register of infected persons, register of persons in contact with the infected persons, register of vaccinated persons, register of infectious outbreaks (schools and other institutions), register of adverse post-vaccination reactions.
Ultimately, SEPIS will be used in other fields of public health, mainly in the field of food safety, as well as other types of control (including chemicals supervision).
Please explain how the initiative is linked to the selected category (100 words maximum)
SEPIS aligns with the “Institutional resilience and innovative responses to the COVID-19 pandemic” category due to its effective application in fight against the coronavirus. Countries all over the world had to make the effort to deal with it, using all available measures to adapt to the situation. The PIS – one of the institutions conducting anti-epidemic actions in Poland – uses SEPIS for multi-faceted handling of pandemic processes, including the identification and handling of infection outbreaks. SEPIS enables faster and more effective task completion and thus increases the effectiveness of report handling and the overall statutory anti-epidemic tasks performance.
a. Please specify which SDGs and target(s) the initiative supports and describe concretely how the initiative has contributed to their implementation (200 words maximum)
3.3 - SEPIS significantly contributes to the effective mitigation of the COVID-19 epidemic risk. It provides an effective way to manage the Inspection’s extensive structure, contributing to the increase in the quality of the Inspection's work, measured, inter alia, by shorter time of handling requests.
10.2 - Thanks to being a digital cloud platform, SEPIS not only enables the even distribution of reports among all local branches of the Inspection, but also enables to provide service for foreigners residing in Poland who do not speak Polish, by handling reports in 7 languages. This ensures a more efficient functioning of the Inspection and, most importantly, better protection of public health.
16.6 - SEPIS is a tool used in all branches of the PIS in Poland. Its proven effectiveness increases the public's trust in the institution whose mission is to protect citizens' health.
16.7 - The data collected via SEPIS enable decision-makers to reliably and comprehensively analyze the changing epidemic situation in the country (evidence-based policy). It's Smart Data – thanks to the infection outbreak tracking module, it is possible to quickly and precisely interrupt infection channels. Technology meets the needs of society here and is used to save life.
b. Please describe what makes the initiative sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms (100 words maximum)
SEPIS is a tool that meets the challenges of today. It is intuitive, so it can be operated by people regardless of their technological proficiency (in the SEPIS Cyclical Evaluation Study, the overall satisfaction with the work in the system was checked – in October 2021 there were a total of 79% of respondents – the PIS employees – who were very or mostly satisfied with working in the system). The features of SEPIS also translate into a significant reduction in the need to use paper in the local PIS branches.
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant shortfall in governance, public administration or public service within the context of a given country or region. (200 words maximum)
Before the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, Poland did not have such an innovative tool to efficiently and effectively collect and process the epidemiological data on an exceptionally large scale. Even at the beginning of the epidemic in Poland (March-September 2020), collecting data in this area and making infected people (and those who could potentially become infected) undergo mandatory quarantine was carried out on the basis of old-generation technologies, which significantly extended the working time of the PIS employees. With limited human and financial resources and in the face of 600 000 applications per month, the Inspection was not able to perform this task in a satisfactory manner, without proper digital tools. SEPIS made it possible for the Inspection's employees to process the requests efficiently and to help all people facing the consequences of the infection. The automation of the entire process took the Inspection to a higher level – it freed up resources that previously had to be used for repetitive and time-consuming activities.
b. Please describe how your initiative addresses gender inequality in the country context. (100 words maximum)
SEPIS is a tool for all citizens and the PIS employees, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, belief, etc.
c. Please describe who the target group(s) were, and explain how the initiative improved outcomes for these target groups. (200 words maximum)
SEPIS serves all citizens and the PIS employees. Evaluation studies measuring the level of satisfaction with its implementation, both from the customer (citizens) and user (the PIS employees) perspective, showed that the standard of service is growing, and the tool itself provides valuable support for experts working for the Inspection.
a. Please describe how the initiative was implemented including key developments and steps, monitoring and evaluation activities, and the chronology. (300 words)
SEPIS was designed and implemented during highly turbulent circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. The team of engineers and developers had to take into account the changing expectations of the system’s end users. Using agile techniques, the team worked with a group of end users in short, two-week sprints, thanks to which the subsequent development phases were quickly verified.
5 May 2020 – The hotline for the GIS is launched
15 May 2020 – Business assumptions and vision of the project
24 October 2020 – Launch of SEPIS
30 November 2020 – module: Power BI
22 December 2020 – Stage I of the project completed
15 January 2021 – module: Adverse vaccine reactions
31 March 2021 – Stage II of the project completed
17 July 2021 – module: electronic Traveller Location Card (eKLP) – https://www.gov.pl/web/gov/fill-in-the-passenger-locator-form
The process of purchasing and delivering computer equipment and smartphones to sanitary and epidemiological stations (i.e. the PIS regional and local branches)
30 September 2020 - Completion of phase 1
9 November 2020 - Completion of phase 2
3 December 2020 - Completion of phase 3
b. Please clearly explain the obstacles encountered and how they were overcome. (100 words)
During SEPIS implementation, competency gaps were observed among some of the PIS employees. Thanks to the extensive training program for about 3000 people, that obstacle was overcome. The trainings covered not only the technological aspect, but also the factual knowledge on the pandemic. To better the quality of service, the GIS organized a series of webinars led by Prof. Andrzej Zieliński PhD – former national consultant in the field of epidemiology.
The Inspection did not have sufficient hardware necessary to fully digitize the process, so a decision was made to purchase 4000 laptops, 4000 VoIP phones and 9000 mobile phones.
a. Please explain in what ways the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region. (100 words maximum)
SEPIS tackles epidemic threats by an unprecedented level of technological advancement. It implements many modern solutions, such as Voicebot (customer satisfaction survey) and Advanced Big Data Analytics (Power BI, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data engineering). The system is constantly being improved.
It was developed with the utmost care for cybersecurity and effective protection of personal data. The PIS employees have been equipped with modern paraphernalia, fast and secure internet connection and a cloud based working environment. Plans are underway to add all the Inspection’s branches to the state's critical infrastructure, which will increase the security level even more.
b. Please describe, if relevant, how the initiative drew inspiration from successful initiatives in other regions, countries and localities. (100 words maximum)
SEPIS is an original project of the Inspection. Using agile techniques, a specially appointed team of developers worked with a group of end users in short, two-week sprints, thanks to which the subsequent development phases were quickly verified.
c. If emerging and frontier technologies were used, please state how those were integrated into the initiative and/or how the initiative embraced digital government. (100 words maximum)
SEPIS uses a number of the newest technological solutions (artificial intelligence, “one-click” functions, a virtual station). The system has the capacity to handle all the processes with the daily number of COVID-19 infections at the level of 70 000. So far, the highest daily number of infections in Poland was 36 000 patients.
a. Has the initiative been transferred and/or adapted to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions) to your organization’s knowledge? If yes, please explain where and how. (200 words maximum)
As far as the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate (GIS) is aware, SEPIS has not yet found its counterpart in other countries. However, SEPIS was designed in the opensource technology, thanks to which it is possible to make the system available in any country in the world. The GIS is ready to cooperate and exchange experiences with other countries. In its assumptions regarding the expansion of the epidemiological module, SEPIS is in accordance with all the guidelines of such organizations as WHO or ECDC (quality standard).
b. If not yet transferred/adapted to other contexts, please describe the potential for transferability. (200 words maximum)
SEPIS will undergo several feature updates, including the ability to be used in the field of food and nutrition safety, environmental health and chemicals supervision, as well as general supervision and control over the PIS. The scalability of this system will enable its use by other public organizations with a structure similar to the PIS (headquarters plus numerous regional branches).
a. What specific resources (i.e. financial, human or others) were used to implement the initiative? (100 words maximum)
The Polish government has used many resources to ensure the most optimal implementation of the new approach to dealing with the pandemic. The taken measures exceeded the competences of individual institutions, which was necessary to meet the adopted assumptions. For this reason, experts from the GovTech Center were engaged. GovTech is a specialized unit responsible for implementation of technological, procedural and organizational innovations in the Polish public sector (https://www.gov.pl/web/govtech-en).
The total cost of the project amounted to approximately PLN 80.5 million (USD 19.8 million). Additionally, PLN 5.9 million (USD 1.5 million) will be allocated until 2026 to cover the maintenance costs.
b. Please explain what makes the initiative sustainable over time, in financial and institutional terms. (100 words maximum)
The epidemiological use of SEPIS is only a prelude to a much wider use of this tool in the area of public health. The system is soon to have a positive impact on the prevention and combating of other infectious diseases, as well as on other parts of the Inspection's areas of expertise. This will enable a more optimal allocation of the PIS human resources and increase the cost-effectiveness of the activities undertaken.
Funds from the state budget were provided to finance further maintenance and development of SEPIS in the coming years.
a. Was the initiative formally evaluated either internally or externally?
b. Please describe how it was evaluated and by whom? (100 words maximum)
SEPIS is subjected to a Cyclical Evaluation Study conducted by employees of the UX team of the Service Development Department at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister (Digital Administration Sandbox Project), on a representative group of respondents (employees of the local PIS branches).
The aim of the study is to regularly monitor (every 1-2 months) the level of satisfaction, needs and improvement suggestions in relation to the system itself, as well as the workflow (including: training programs, materials, problem solving) and in relation to new implementations.
Additionally, the survey covers the satisfaction of people who PIS employees contact by phone.
c. Please describe the indicators and tools used (100 words maximum)
The last evaluation was carried out on a sample of 604 PIS employees in October 2021. The CAWI standardized interview method was used.
The following issues were examined: general assessment of the system and the need for changes; evaluation of training materials; evaluation of problem solving support; evaluation of the training program.
Sample question: How do you rate SEPIS for: simplicity of use; reliability and stability; appearance and aesthetics; availability of specific functions?
The satisfaction survey of people who were contacted by phone was carried out with the use of Voicebot technology.
d. What were the main findings of the evaluation (e.g. adequacy of resources mobilized for the initiative, quality of implementation and challenges faced, main outcomes, sustainability of the initiative, impacts) and how this information is being used to inform the initiative’s implementation. (200 words maximum)
According to the recent User Satisfaction Survey, SEPIS has been rated very well. The percentage difference of people who were satisfied against those dissatisfied was tenfold in favor of the former.
None of the examined dimensions of SEPIS (ease of use of the system, system reliability and stability, appearance and aesthetics, access to individual functions), as well as none of the diagnosed aspects of the training materials (usability, quality, transparency, readability and accessibility of information) received the lowest score. Almost 80% of the respondents positively assessed the problem solving support. 32% of the respondents reported the need for further changes – the submitted proposals are being analyzed in terms of their feasibility and implementation possibilities.
The satisfaction survey of people who the PIS employees contacted by phone covered a total of 7943 respondents, the vast majority of whom positively assessed the quality of service (the interview met the expectations, information was provided in an understandable way, further rules of conduct were explained).
Please describe how the initiative is inscribed in the relevant institutional landscape (for example, how it was situated with respect to relevant government agencies, and how the institutional relationships with those have been operating). (200 words maximum)
SEPIS is an interoperable program that ensures the exchange of data with many other state databases: the Universal Electronic System for Population Registration (PESEL), the EWP IT system (Register of Entry to Poland), the Register of Contact Data (access to current contact details of a given citizen). It is also used for the current flow of information from the e-Health Center, which collects and analyzes data for the health policy of the minister responsible for health, and with the National Institute of Public Health, dealing with, inter alia, protecting the population against infectious diseases.
Data collected and processed using the SEPIS system are also used for reporting to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (automatic reporting) and the World Health Organization.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe which stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative and how this engagement took place. (200 words maximum)
The development and implementation of SEPIS was carried out with the strong participation of end users from all structural levels of the State Sanitary Inspection, including representatives from 16 provincial, 318 county and 10 border sanitary and epidemiological stations. The work of experts from the Chancellery of the Prime Minister’s GovTech Center, who participated in the development, should also be appreciated.
The last SEPIS evaluation was carried out from 4 to 7 October 2021 by the employees of the UX team of the Service Development Department at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister (Digital Administration Sandbox Project), on a group of 604 respondents (the employees of local sanitary and epidemiological stations).
Please describe the key lessons learned, and how your organization plans to improve the initiative. (200 words maximum)
In a crisis situation (global pandemic), a team was formed from the representatives of both public (the GIS, Ministry of Health, Chancellery of the Prime Minister) and private sector (the largest Polish bank – PKO BP, and the largest Polish insurance company – PZU S.A.). The multidisciplinary team displayed an exemplary level of cooperation and had a fruitful exchange of experiences, which resulted in the creation of SEPIS and other services supporting the fight against COVID-19. Despite working under pressure, the Team was effective in carrying out the assigned tasks.
The human factor must be kept in mind when implementing SEPIS (as well as any other new technology). The Inspection took care of professional training for system users, launched a dedicated website with news, FAQs and an on-line training platform.