AZ HIE Forms Health IT Partnership to Improve SDOH Referrals

Arizona’s HIE will implement a social determinants of health (SDOH) referral tool to support patient access to social services.

Contexture, the health information exchange (HIE) of Arizona, has announced a new health IT partnership with Unite Us that aims to improve social determinants of health (SDOH) referrals.

The new SDOH referral platform, branded as CommunityCares, is designed to facilitate interoperability between healthcare and community service providers through a single statewide platform to streamline the SDOH referral process and access to social services.

“By connecting healthcare and community service providers on a single platform, CommunityCares streamlines the referral process, fosters easier access to vital services, and provides confirmation when social services are delivered,” Melissa Kotrys, CEO of Contexture, said in a public statement.

Additionally, CommunityCares will integrate with existing EHRs, patient and member portals, and care management systems ensuring SDOH referral, the press release stated.

“We’re excited about the new partnership with Unite Us, as it further expands our network and creates greater capacity and access to care for Arizonans,” Kotrys said. “The powerful capabilities and comprehensive features the Unite Us Platform offers, make it an ideal partner to help CommunityCares facilitate social care coordination for our communities.”

The piloting SDOH program was funded by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). Contexture stated that it would also partner with Solari Crisis & Human Services to access 211 Arizona resources and ensure they are implemented into the CommunityCares system.

“Our vision is to build a world of connected communities working together to improve people's health and well-being,” said Taylor Justice, Unite Us, co-founder and president. “Our platform delivers the ability for healthcare providers and community-based organizations to send and receive electronic referrals to better address people’s social care needs and, ultimately, help improve health across communities.”

This collaboration is the latest in the industry to enhance social services referral interoperability.

Last year, Dell Medical School at the University of Texas (UT) announced it is piloting health IT to boost social services referral interoperability.

The program seeks to help healthcare providers make social services referrals within their EHR workflow. The agency can then notify the provider that the patient has been connected and is receiving services or that it was unable to help the patient.

“We're very excited to give our community a chance to address the needs of the underserved community,” Anjum Khurshid, MD, PhD, associate professor and director of data integration in the department of population health at Dell Medical School told the news outlet. “We have to build this for those who need it the most: the underrepresented.”

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