Northam announces $10M in funding for COVID-19 e-referral system


Gov. Ralph Northam is directing $10 million in federal money toward an e-referral system designed to connect vulnerable Virginians to health and social services as a means to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virginia is partnering with technology company Unite Us to create the statewide technology platform called Unite Virginia. The funding will come from federal money allocated to Virginia through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

“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,” Northam said in a statement after he made his announcement Friday.

“This is about connecting people with the support they need to live healthy lives,” Northam said. “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.”

Unite Virginia will integrate electronic medical record systems in hospitals with health systems and medical practice groups. These links are meant to make it easier for health care providers to refer patients to other resources they may need, such as food, transportation assistance, housing and employment services. Organizations that participate in the system will be able to refer patients and clients to each other.

According to the governor’s office, the platform will be designed to give vulnerable Virginians better access to these services when trying to manage health problems and the environmental factors that contribute to those problems. The data provided in this system also is meant to help the state and other organizations better serve vulnerable 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,” Unite Us President Taylor Justice said in a statement. “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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