Abstract

Bi-directional referral platforms provide a streamlined process for making, receiving, and tracking referrals, helping to ensure that families connect to services and resources to thrive.  While the technology is valuable, it will not serve its purpose if not adopted by the community.  Successful and sustainable implementation requires trust and shared accountability between cross-sector community partners.  Implementation administered by outside individuals may lack the necessary trust to create worthwhile change. Through evidence and experience implementing the referral platform IRIS, we see successful and sustainable networks developed when led by champions within a community. Community champions live and work within a community and possess the social capital to bring partners together and inspire change. These champions acknowledge the history of factors that have shaped available resources, how providers currently engage with each other, and how families access services. Community champions cast a vision that resonates with providers across many sectors, including healthcare, education, and early childhood. To further support building connections for families and local organizations, we introduce the IRIS implementation approach. When delivered by community champions, this approach guides local adoption of the platform by navigating the five-phase IRIS implementation framework. Community champions lead systems change work by incorporating tools and processes to assist with network mapping, partner engagement, and workflow integration. Through this process, community champions build partnerships to support families while also utilizing the platform's data to identify and respond to service needs in the community.