Traditionally, community information exchange platforms connect healthcare systems to community-based organizations to coordinate care. A new care network focused on behavioral health in Washington state is taking a different approach by putting an educational service district at the center.
Chicago-based NowPow, whose closed-loop community referral platform is used in 15 regions across the country, has partnered with Educational Service District 105, a state agency serving 25 public school districts and over 20 private and tribal schools. NowPow’s partnership with ESD 105 has the potential to connect more than 66,000 K-12 students and their families to behavioral health resources in the community. Even before the pandemic, 93 percent of school districts in the state reported having insufficient systems to address behavioral health needs, which have now been compounded by the crisis. After the initial launch, ESD 105 also plans to use NowPow’s referral network to address issues such as food and housing insecurity.
NowPow said it also is furthering its work with a company called Ideal Option, one of the nation’s largest outpatient medication-assisted treatment providers for substance use disorder. This year, Ideal Option and its sister company, Ideal Balance, have leveraged NowPow’s platform to administer comprehensive screening to more than 420 patients with opioid use disorder in the Greater Columbia region and match them to more than 3,600 critical community resources like housing and job assistance. Since then, Ideal Option has brought the NowPow referral network to patients in five more counties in the North Puget Sound region.
ESD 105 and Ideal Option will work with community-based and government organizations to “close the referral loop,” using NowPow to track engagement throughout the process so that providers and community-based partners are able to monitor the outcome of referrals and follow-up as needed.
“During these unprecedented times, it is critical that our students have access to behavioral health services to facilitate learning and support overall well-being,” said Kevin Chase, superintendent of ESD 105, in a prepared statement. “Our partnership with NowPow will help our students and their families address social risk factors and overcome systemic barriers to these critical resources.”