The Commonwealth of Virginia is using $10 million in Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to create a new statewide technology platform to connect Virginians with health and social services.
With the new platform, named Unite Virginia, the Commonwealth will implement an integrated e-referral system that “unites government agencies, health care providers, and community-based partners and supports Virginia’s continuing COVID-19 response and recovery efforts,” according to a press release from Gov. Ralph Northam. The platform was developed in partnership with tech company Unite Us.
“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 Governor Northam. “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.”
The $10 million in funding will cover the startup and implementation costs to operate the e-referral system. The new system can integrate with the widely used electronic medical record systems in place at hospitals, health systems, and medical practice groups across the Commonwealth. Gov. Northam’s office said that establishing those links will “enable health care providers to refer patients to social service organizations that can provide other supports such as food, transportation assistance, housing, employment services, and more.” Additionally, participating organizations will be able to refer clients and patients to each other. Virginia also noted that data insights gleaned from the new platform will help state government, providers, and other partners identify critical needs and better focus efforts to serve Virginians.
“Developing this type of e-referral system has been a longstanding goal of our statewide Partnering for a Healthy Virginia initiative,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “With this funding, we can take the necessary steps to continue our important work on promoting health equity and addressing the social factors that influence individual and community health.”