How do I contact the Statewide Transfer Escalation Pathway (STEP)?

STEP (through AZ REACH) can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone at 1-877-787-4329.

What is the STEP Program? 

STEP is a voluntary, free 24/7 service operated by the AZ REACH team, which coordinates acute care transfers out of Arizona’s hospitals with 20 or less inpatient beds, when the normal transfer process has been exhausted.  

Which facilities are eligible to use STEP?

Arizona hospitals that operate with 20 or less inpatient beds.

What types of transfers qualify for coordination through STEP?

STEP will coordinate interfacility transfers for all service line types requiring acute medical care placement. Current services do not include behavioral health placement, post-acute placement, or the coordination of transportation.

When should STEP be utilized?

When eligible hospitals are unsuccessful in securing placement through their normal patient transfer processes.

Who determines where a patient is transferred?

The patient’s treating physician determines the level of care the patient needs and will guide the AZ REACH team to the patient’s preferred destination. If a physician does not have a preference, the coordination team has insight into which facilities can meet the patient’s needs, starting with the closest available facility that has the required service capability.

What about the patient's insurance?

STEP will ask the referring provider if they have a preferred receiving organization for which insurance will be one of that provider’s determining factors. STEP is unable to verify insurance coverage prior to targeting a receiving location. Should there be no preference, STEP will target the closest available facility with the capability required to meet the patient’s clinical needs without consideration of insurance.

Are calls recorded through STEP?

All calls are recorded for patient safety and quality assurance.

Does STEP assist with transport after the transfer is accepted?

STEP is unable to assist with coordinating patient transport between facilities. Transportation will continue to be coordinated in the same manner as before the involvement of STEP.

Is there a limit to the number of facilities that can be contacted for a STEP transfer?

STEP will attempt placement based on the direction of the sending facility, with a max of 4 organizations actively coordinating placement. 

How is STEP different from AZ REACH?

AZ REACH is the umbrella service, under which STEP functions per SB 1720. While both programs are voluntary services, STEP is only utilized by Arizona hospitals with 20 or less inpatient beds, when their normal transfer process has been exhausted. AZ REACH is available for use by Arizona’s IHS, PL.93-638, and critical access hospitals, without the requirement for prior placement attempts to be made.  Hospitals that qualify for program participation under both AZ REACH and STEP will continue to follow the AZ REACH protocols.

Why should we use STEP?

With a single phone call your patient’s placement becomes our priority. By leveraging our technology and extensive database, your team regains valuable time to focus on what is most important, patient care. We hope to free your staff from being tied to the phone for patient placement and follow-up calls.

Who administrates the STEP program?

This program is administered by the University of Arizona’s Arizona Poison and Drug Information System and is an expansion to the services they have provided Arizonans since 1980. Arizona Poison and Drug Information System has partnered with Blackbox Healthcare Solutions for oversight of daily operations, data analytics, and reporting. Routine meeting cadence is established with the core advisory committee, made up of members from the participating hospitals.

How will the data be utilized?

All hospital-specific referral data is only shared with the originating hospital; aggregate or regional data trends may be shared with the applicable hospitals; aggregate data is shared with public health and other agencies as agreed upon.

My hospital has less than 20 inpatient beds, why are we not included in STEP?

Arizona Senate Bill 1720 expanded the eligibility to participate in AZ REACH to Arizona hospitals with 20 or less inpatient beds.  Invitations to participate were distributed based on hospital licensing records from ADHS with hospitals eligible to use 911 during medical emergencies excluded. If you believe your hospital qualifies for participation in STEP but have not been contacted by our leadership team, please reach out to for assistance.