PA Navigate: A New Digital Platform Bridging Gaps in Pennsylvania’s Health and Social Services

DHS Secretary Dr. Val ArkooshCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

LANCASTER, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) yesterday launched PA Navigate, an innovative online tool designed to connect residents with vital community resources. The announcement was made yesterday by DHS Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh, findhelp Founder & CEO Erine Gray, and Community Action Partnership Lancaster CEO Vanessa Philbert.

PA Navigate aims to facilitate referrals to organizations offering essential services such as food, shelter, and transportation. It also allows individuals to refer themselves for services and fosters improved communication between healthcare providers and organizations serving similar populations.

Secretary Arkoosh described PA Navigate as a “groundbreaking resource” that promotes collaboration between healthcare and social service organizations. “A person’s individual situation is complex, and factors like poverty, lack of stable housing, and food insecurity often impact an individual’s or family’s health,” said Arkoosh.

Indeed, research from the National Academy of Medicine reveals that social determinants of health — including income, education, social supports, and physical environment — contribute up to 90% of health outcomes. Despite this, there has been a persistent disconnect between healthcare providers and organizations that can help people overcome barriers to essential needs and economic stability. PA Navigate is poised to bridge this gap.

The platform will enable healthcare providers and social service organizations to track client referrals, better understand individual needs, and help clients access necessary services and supports. This could occur during doctor’s office visits, emergency department encounters, case management services, or interactions with community-based organizations.

Moreover, PA Navigate will collect data to help the Commonwealth and its partners better understand the health and social service needs of Pennsylvanians. By examining social determinants of health — including employment, childcare, transportation, food security, healthcare access, and housing stability — state agencies and local partners can identify service gaps and opportunities for improved support.

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PA Navigate is a collaborative effort among health information organizations (HIOs), state agencies, local nonprofits, community organizations, healthcare entities, and social service providers. Participating HIOs include ClinicalConnect Health Information Exchange, Central PA Connect Health Information Exchange, HealthShare Exchange, and the Keystone Health Information Exchange. In September 2023, findhelp was selected as the PA Navigate platform.

The launch of PA Navigate represents a significant step forward in Pennsylvania’s commitment to holistic care and underscores the importance of addressing social determinants of health. By facilitating collaboration between healthcare providers and social service organizations, PA Navigate has the potential to improve health outcomes for Pennsylvanians and provide valuable insights into the state’s health and social service needs. As the platform develops and evolves, it will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the future of health and social services in the Commonwealth.

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