New PA website links health care and social services
PA Navigate is a new website that connects Pennsylvanians to health care and social services. The site is meant to make the referral process easier and make sure patients follow through on referrals.
The site is a collaborative effort between state agencies, counties, local non-profits, community organizations, health care and social services. The online tool is meant to be a streamlined location to find resources and referrals.
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh said when she was a physician, she saw patients who needed more than prescriptions to be healthy.
“They needed access to fresh, healthy food for themselves and their families. They needed a safe and secure home, comprehensive behavioral health care, transportation to get to work, reliable and affordable child care when they got to work, care for an aging patient and so much more," Arkoosh said.
Arkoosh said physicians and social workers can refer patients to other agencies, but it can be difficult to know if they follow up on that referral. With PA Navigate, health care providers and social service organizations can refer a person to services in the community and track those referrals. People can also look up resources themselves.
“I anticipate that five years from now we'll all look back and say, ‘How did we ever survive without PA Navigate?’ because it's something that we've needed for such a long time," Arkoosh said.
Arkoosh said this is the first “closed loop referral system” in Pennsylvania. That means social service referrals are included in a patient’s electronic record, including if the patient actually did follow up and receive those services.
PA Navigate’s software is supported by Findhelp, a national online social care network. Findhelp CEO Erine Gray said the idea of connecting social care to medical care is relatively new in the United States.
“I think Pennsylvania is further along from what I've been seeing. I think Pennsylvania has an opportunity to really be one of the leading states in the United States for coordinating this care together so that that doctor in a clinic knows about the needs, and then somebody at a local nonprofit can fulfill those needs," Gray said.
So far, nearly 8,000 organizations are participating in PA Connect. The state’s Department of Human Services said it is open to more participants as the platform grows.