When referring a patient to another organization to assist with varying social needs, the outdated system of phone calls, faxing paperwork, and inherent delays is not ideal. Community leaders in healthcare and human services advocated for a better, more efficient way to communicate and coordinate care for their patients. 

Queue the Community Resource Network (CRN), an online platform built by long-time western Colorado Health Information Exchange, Quality Health Network, in response to a community need and created to manage referrals between medical, social, and behavioral health organizations.

The CRN launched in July 2020 and is currently in Mesa County and the Roaring Fork regions.  While there was no way to predict what 2020 would bring, the services provided by CRN are timely and critical to our community for residents who face challenges in more than one area of their life and need whole-person care coordination.

For example, a patient may express concerns about housing needs during a medical appointment. Through the CRN, the provider can easily make a referral to the local housing authority. Even though the medical provider isn’t an expert in housing, they can quickly navigate their patient’s whole-person needs, make the referral, and provide their patient with the housing paperwork to get started. With real-time notifications, each person on the care team will also receive updates and can follow along with a user-friendly interface.

“With the CRN, we identify and address needs earlier so they are not as serious later on. We help improve people’s health in our communities by moving to upstream solutions,” Jackie Sievers, Director of CRN Implementation explained.

Better coordination, less burden on the patient, and faster service is the true aim of the CRN.

Rhia Morales-Foelker, Care Coordinator at St. Mary’s Family Medicine has been using the platform since it went live in July 2020. “I use CRN to make and track instant electronic referrals and communicate with other people helping care for my clients. I’ve found my clients the help they need much more efficiently and effectively with this tool. If we can get all medical, social, and behavioral providers in Western Colorado connected, we are going to see huge changes in the overall health of our communities,” Morales-Foelker shared.

This opt-in program for patients is part of the Quality Health Network (QHN) system. Robust security is built into the QHN system and patients have full control over who can access their information. If a patient ends up in the ER that can be noted in their chart so others on the care team can follow-up with any additional services the patient may need.

“We are excited to announce that Version 2 will be coming this spring!” Sievers shared. Version 2 will have additional functionality for the users. It will provide network partners the ability to customize referrals and add assessments, including a report builder that will allow users to create custom-made reports. It will also interface with the Western Colorado 211 resource directory for real-time updates on resources.

If you are interested in learning more about Community Resource Network or would like to know how your organization can become involved, please call (970) 248-0033 or visit communityresourcenet.org/.