How an SMS questionnaire keeps hospital staff and patients safe

Customer Story
Using Sinch technology, TelASK provided the University of Ottawa Heart Institute with a quick-and-easy daily screening questionnaire for all employees – to ensure patient safety during the pandemic.
Image of two women


Challenge: Implement a quick-and-easy daily questionnaire for all employees to help protect patients and staff

Solution: Use SMS so employees can answer the questionnaire on their mobile right before their shifts

Results: During one-month period employees avoided over 1,000 hours waiting in line which had to result in significant productivity gains


years industry experience


hours of waiting time is saved

5 yrs

with Sinch as customer








The pandemic has turned the world on its head, and all types of businesses need to adjust. The University of Ottawa Heart Institute decided to require a daily screening questionnaire to help protect all employees – and turned to leading healthcare business TelASK for help.

TelASK, a leading provider of patient engagement services, knew the solution had to be fast, secure, easy, and user-friendly. That’s where Sinch came in.

Challenge: The need for daily symptom screening on-the-job 

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute is Canada’s largest and foremost heart health center, with over 235,000 patient visits each year. To ensure all these patients stayed safe when the coronavirus pandemic struck, the institute introduced a daily health screening questionnaire prior to all employee shifts. 

But this was easier said than done. Employees had to wait in line each day at the hospital entrance, where personnel minding the entrance administered paper-based questionnaires. And when you’re treating something as serious as heart disease, such delays are more than an inconvenience. 

“The institute asked us to develop a digital symptom-screening questionnaire that could be self-administered by employees on their mobile phones prior to their shift, to expedite their entry into the workplace,” says Peter Fallis, President of TelASK.  

Solution: The ease of SMS

There were several aspects TelASK had to consider when designing a solution. The survey had to be easy and quick to complete. But responses also had to be time-stamped and verifiable.  

“We needed a user-friendly solution for employees to access a time–stamped questionnaire on their mobile phones, and a solution to quickly return a credential to them verifying that they had attested to being symptom-free,” Fallis explains.  

And what’s one thing that every employee has and is accustomed to using? SMS. That’s why TelASK decided to use 2-way SMS from Sinch to build its “Wellness Pass” solution for the institute.  

“Employees simply text ‘WP’ to a special number before they leave for work,” Fallis says. “Moments later they receive a text message with a link, leading to a browser session on their phone.” 

Once the completed questionnaire is submitted, the employee receives another link via text message. Clicking this link opens the “Wellness Pass” on their mobile phone, displaying the employee’s name, unit they work in, and the exact date and time that they completed the screening. 

TelAsk questionnaire

“The Wellness Pass solution includes an optional dashboard for personnel minding the entrance.  It displays a time-stamped list of all employees who have submitted questionnaires,” Fallis ads.  “Now, symptom-free employees can just show the Wellness Pass on their mobile phone and go straight in.” 

TelAsk results

Because employees can complete the questionnaire on their own mobile device in advance, crowding is reduced, entry is expedited, and logging paper documents is no longer necessary. Audit reports can be generated and printed from the dashboard.

Results: Saving time – and potentially lives  

From concept to completion, Fallis says that the Wellness Pass took just about 10 days to implement.  

“Working with Sinch has enabled TelASK to deliver the Wellness Pass solution rapidly. It’s a voluntary system, but happily, the vast majority of employees are now using it,” he says. “Wellness Pass has been a big success, and it’s appreciated by both the employees and the hospital administrators. 

The new system saves time and increases employee productivity – which of course implies financial benefits for the organization. In addition, it offers the institute some peace of mind knowing that they’re doing everything they can to help keep the hospital COVID-free. 

Working with Sinch has enabled TelASK to rapidly deliver WELLNESS PASS, a digital solution that is making a meaningful contribution to operations at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peter Fallis