Washington Communities for Children (WCFC) is a network of early childhood coalitions – groups of local parents, child care providers, non-profits, public agencies, school districts, etc. – dedicated to improving the wellbeing of children, families, and communities acrossWashington state.
In 2022, the Washington State Department of Health enlisted WCFC in its Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) programto develop strategies to identify local and culturally appropriate services and update resource and referral directories.
WCFC partnered with Open Referral’s leadership to design and facilitate their strategy – and we are excited to share the report from the second phase of our work. (Download the report as a PDF here https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c43b3ae50a54f5dfe95fdba/t/650c74c81db5c572a581599f/1695315146967/ECCS+Program+Phase+2+Summary+Report+%281%29.pdf) Continue reading →
Along the way, we’ve already achieved the first part of our mission: establishing industry standards for resource directory data exchange, to ensure that it’s possible to share, find, and use information about the health, human, and social services available to people in need – regardless of what technology someone happens to use.
Our mission won’t be fully accomplished, however, until this critical public information is reliable and easy to access wherever people happen to look for it. Toward that end, we need to change culture – and imagine new institutional models to sustain this challenging work. We’re making great progress on these fronts, but it’s a long journey and we have a long ways yet to go.
I’m excited to share the news that, as of January 1st, I’ve stepped into the role of Senior Director of Strategy and Partnerships for Inform USA.
Inform USA is the industry association representing information-and-referral providers across government and nonprofit human service sectors. Formerly known as AIRS (the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems), Inform USA sets standards, builds capacity, and provides training, practitioner certification, and program accreditation for resource referral services. Continue reading →
Open Referral’s mission is to establish resource directory data as a public good – reliably and sustainably made freely available to all. Toward this end, we developed the Human Service Data Specifications – but we also know that solving this problem requires more than just technical interoperability among resource directory information systems. Indeed, success entails a transformation of the business models through which resource directory information is produced.
That’s why we’ve partnered with the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University to learn from the wealth of knowledge about institutional design and resource management that has been gathered there in the “Bloomington School”—through which Elinor Ostrom produced her seminal work, Governing the Commons. … Continue reading →
I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with the Michigan Community Information Exchange Task Force over the past year. I encourage you to read the report, which is published here. You can also watch this webinar summarizing the report with commentary from a range of task force members.
It’s a long video and an even longer document, so I’d like to provide my own personal summary here. (A couple of pointers for reading the document: the key conclusions are summarized on page 8, and the analysis that informed each of those conclusions begins on page 40.)
In this post, I will introduce the Task Force and summarize its initial findings. In a following post, I will summarize its final recommendations. Let’s dig in! Continue reading →
As integration of healthcare and social care sectors becomes an ever-hotter topic, we’re excited to announce that we’ve taken a small but significant step forward: the Human Service Data Specifications are now aligned with the protocols for healthcare provider directory information specified by the Health Level Seven (HL7®) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®).
We designed the Human Service Data Specifications (HSDS)to make it easy to share information about human services of any kind. But given the many nuanced differences across human service sectors – and states and countries and etc – it’s just not feasible to standardize every possible kind of information associated with any kind of service anywhere. So we didn’t try to do that!
Instead, HSDS standardizes the most common information elements that can be expected in virtually any service – which turns out to be a relatively small set of fields, especially when it comes to the core requirements. This ensures that HSDS is relatively practical to adopt; however, at the same time, we do want users to be able to share additional information that is important to their communities even if not specified in the core format. To strike this balance, we’ve encouraged adopters to develop extensions through which they could include information that HSDS does not specify.
I’m excited to share with you this toolkit for information exchange initiatives that aim to address the social determinants of health – shared by the Office of the National Coordination for Health Information Technology at the US Department of Health and Human Services (known as ONC). The toolkit (PDF downloadable here) synthesizes subject matter expertise from across the health, human, and social service sectors to offer guidance on the design and implementation of initiatives to enable information exchange among healthcare and social care providers.
This toolkit largely addresses issues beyond resource directory information, and yet it reflects many of the lessons learned and strategic objectives of the Open Referral initiative. It may be helpful for communities that are working to improve their supply chain for resource directory information – as well as communities for which resource directory information is just one piece of a more complex strategic goal. I’ll offer some background context below: Continue reading →
This annual practice of review and reflection is an opportunity for us to step back and assess our progress across multiple objectives as we work towards our shared goal: a future in which it’s easy to share, find, and use information about the resources available to people in need.
This year is especially notable for the range of ways in which we’ve helped governments, nonprofits, and private sector actors take action to modernize their resource directory information supply chains – on a local, statewide, and even national level.
The report shares stories of pilot projects across the U.S. in which Open Referral’s standards, tools, and strategies are enabling cooperation among organizations that previously struggled to work together in pursuit of their common goals. Continue reading →
As Open Referral’s network grows – involving more stakeholders in the development of interoperable resource directory information supply chains – our tools and practices must evolve in kind to support more complex needs.
So we are excited to share that Open Referral has initiated a new development cycle to upgrade the Human Service Data Specifications. This cycle has kicked off with a specific objective to address a significant issue: our specifications need to be adapted across diverse contexts, to support different conventions in different places, while preserving a core of interoperability across our ecosystem.
To support this workgroup’s efforts, we are seeking feedback from a broad array of stakeholders across our network. For instance, this Friday (July 22nd) from 11a-1p, we will host an open “fishbowl” discussion in which workgroup members will review proposals line-by-line, at which any members of our community are welcome to observe and discuss by chat – invitations available by request. We encourage interested parties to comment on the documents above, or discuss in our issues queue on Github, or reach out directly via [email protected] Continue reading →