Network touted as a way to efficiently get needs

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A computer screen shot illustrates a hypothetical display provided through the Community Resource Network. The display offers a snapshot of a client, including resources sought in the past and who’s been contacted to request additional services. (Image courtesy Quality Health Network)

Three years of development and testing — as well as some national recognition along the way — have led to this point.

A network designed to more efficiently connect people with organizations providing medical, behavioral and social services is operational.

“It’s exciting,” said Jackie Sievers, director of implementation for the Community Resource Network (CRN).

Dick Thompson, executive director and chief executive officer of Quality Health Network based in Grand Junction, said the network helps connect people with the right services at the right time.

“CRN helps service providers of all types understand an individual’s needs from a whole person perspective, leverage the work and the relationships that are already in place, reduce duplication of services and data entry and prioritize actions that make a real difference for those we all serve,” Thompson said.

Dick Thompson

Quality Health Network developed the CRN to build on an exchange that shares electronic health records among hospitals, medical practices and public health departments in the region.

The CRN provides on a secure exchange information about clients, including family and housing, resources sought in the past and who’s been contacted to request services, Sievers said. “You see a whole picture of an individual,”

The CRN also offers information about available resources and the appropriate organizations to contact for assistance.

Jackie Sievers

Sievers said the additional information is important because such so-called social determinants as housing and food security can account for more than half of the factors affecting the health and wellbeing of a person.

Providing services in a more proactive and coordinated way also can lower health care costs and in turn lessen the burden for taxpayers and businesses, she said.

“Our technology connects the dots,” Sievers said. “Helping to efficiently connect individuals to the right services makes a huge difference for all involved.”

Sievers said the CRN has been under development for about three years.

The CRN earned national recognition last year when the effort placed second in a health innovation challenge by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Five organizations in Mesa County have tested the CRN since January, Sievers said.

Christie Higgins, community access director at Hilltop Community Resources, said the Grand Junction-based organization has used the CRN to coordinate care for clients at its family resource center.

“We can quickly make and send electronic referrals to find the help they need fast and with less paperwork,” Higgins said. “We find we have more time to spend working directly with clients when we can see all their info in one place. We love the visual way the CRN shows us where to focus our efforts first.”

Sievers said she expects the CRN to soon expand to other agencies in Mesa County as well as the Roaring Fork Valley. Agencies in Delta County also are exploring the use of the network. Dozens of organizations across Western Colorado could be using the network by the end of the year. Eventually, the CRN could expand across Colorado.

“We are working to get medical, behavioral and social agencies plugged into the network,” she said. “The more organizations utilizing CRN, the better the outcomes will be.”