New NRPA Guide Outlining Steps to Implement Electronic Health Record Referral Process, Now Available

(August 28, 2019)

Guide provides tools for healthcare providers and community-based organizations to identify and refer individuals with chronic diseases to a variety of programs and services

Ashburn, Va. (Aug 28, 2019) — The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) announces the availability of its guide, Increasing Referrals to Community-Based Programs and Services: An Electronic Health Record Referral Process. NRPA developed the guide to support collaboration between healthcare organizations and park and recreation agencies who share a common goal – to improve the health of the communities they serve by developing community integrated health strategies.

As our nation continues to grapple with major public health threats and rising rates of chronic diseases, NRPA, through its health and wellness pillar, is working to ensure that local parks and recreation offer accessible and effective solutions. A key component of this work includes local parks and recreation partnering with healthcare entities and other community health stakeholders to position themselves as community wellness hubs.   

Thanks to funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NRPA’s Healthy Aging in Parks Initiative supported pilot projects between two park and recreation agencies and their healthcare partners to implement a collaborative four-step referral process that leverages the capabilities of electronic health records (EHRs) to identify and refer older adults with arthritis to evidence-based interventions offered at local park and recreation sites. More than 25 percent of those referred enrolled and participated in parks and recreation programs.

The resource provides the following:

  • An overview of the importance and use of partnerships between healthcare entities and community-based organizations
  • A step-by-step guide on how to replicate the EHR referral process
  • Sample communication materials
  • Tips and lessons learned from the piloting organizations
  • A pilot-site case study
  • Resources for developing and maintaining healthcare partnerships

“By working together, these organizations can develop community integrated health strategies to enhance access to the programs and services that improve health and quality of life for residents throughout the U.S.,” said Lesha Spencer-Brown, NRPA Health and Wellness Program Senior Manager.

Healthcare providers and community-based organizations can use the guide to identify and refer individuals with any type of chronic disease to a variety of community-based programs and services.

See copy of the guide here

To learn more about NRPA, visit   


About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit