Northam announces new e-referral system to connect ‘vulnerable Virginians to health and social services’

Virginia

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam listens as he prepares to speak to a group of volunteers to distribute supplies at health equity community event Tuesday May 12, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday that the Commonwealth would allocate $10 million in federal CARES Act funding to create an e-referral system for Virginians.

The state will partner with Unite Us to create Unite Virginia — a statewide platform designed to connect vulnerable Virginians to health and social services. 

“The ongoing and widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the need to unite traditional health care settings and community organizations that address social determinants of health,” said Northam.

“This is about connecting people with the supports they need to live healthy lives. Having this critical infrastructure in place will also position our Commonwealth to better respond to and recover from the twin public health and economic crises we face, and advance health equity by ensuring medical care and social services are appropriately delivered to Virginians, reducing barriers to care, and identifying gaps to better our target resources.”

Once completed, the Commonwealth will implement the integrated e-referral system allowing government agencies, health care providers, and community-based partners to support Virginia’s continuing COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

The designated funding is to help with costs associated with the startup and implementation of the system, which will integrate with widely used electronic medical record systems at hospitals, health systems, and medical practices across Virginia. 

The connection will let health care providers refer patients to social service organizations that can help with other support such as food, transportation, housing, and employment. In turn, participating organizations will be able to refer patients and clients to each other.

This “interconnected approach” also may increase the likelihood that vulnerable Virginians will access support services to manage their health conditions and contributing factors.

A statement released says that data insights show the platform may help state government, providers, and other partners identify critical needs and better focus efforts to serve these Virginians.

“We are ready to work alongside our partners in Virginia to provide both the technology and hyper-local community engagement that will give individuals comprehensive access to the care and services they need,” said Unite Us President Taylor Justice.

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Northam, Unite Us will help mitigate the current effects of the pandemic, build the infrastructure to strengthen connectivity between all care providers, and ultimately help build healthier, more equitable communities.”

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