Case Study

Northwestern Medicine



Case Description

As the number of symptomatic patients increased, health systems around Chicago-land prepared for its peak and the increased testing that would occur. In a time of uncertainty and chaos within hospitals, staff was reassigned and 4th year medical students were helping the phone lines to both provide and follow up with patients about their COVID-19 test results. This took them away from patient care areas where immediate attention was needed.

Learn how NM partnered with Upfront to securely deliver test results and personalized clinical guidance they need to manage COVID-19 symptoms.


Northwestern Medicine needed to deliver COVID-19 test results and guidance to a growing number of patients and employees after a visit to an ambulatory testing center. The clinical protocols presented a challenge to execute at scale as patient instructions vary greatly by test result(s), current symptoms, and whether the patient is also an employee. Additionally, they recognized that complex instructions provided over the telephone to highly anxious people are rarely retained. Subsequently patient compliance with clinical requirements like completing online symptom assessments or self-isolation is compromised. Furthermore, low patient portal adoption as well as growing numbers of new patients hindered urgent communications to large populations using existing technology. The health system needed a solution to help optimize the use of their resources while ensuring patients get the clinical guidance they need to manage COVID-19 symptoms and test results.



Upfront partnered with the health system to securely deliver COVID-19 test results and personalized navigation to patients and employees. Upfront provides patients and employees continuous guidance in accordance with their clinical pathways over several days. Patients and employees are directed to complete required symptom assessments and follow clinical guidelines. Then, based on their data and engagement, patients are given personal and specific directions on how, when and where to seek care. Patients and employees can refer back to their personalized webpage for educational content and directions at any time. Upfront assisted the health system to improve outcomes, reduce COVID-19 spread, and keep facilities safe for everyone. In addition, nursing and medical student resources were freed up to focus on in person care.



By delivering COVID-19 test results, NM was able to quickly relay and contact 60K individuals over 3 months and on a recurring basis. NM had the ability to quickly surface and triage recipients who expressed symptoms or sought additional support and intervention, making more effective use of NM’s workforce resources and time while creating an intensely personalized experience for patients.


Overall engagement


Conversion rate


Hours saved (16 FTEs) of clinical time in one week

“It’s really important to create an engagement ecosystem. Upfront removes obstacles to getting patients the right information at the right time.”

Eileen Varnson, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

Riverside Health System

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