So you may be thinking about starting your EHR due diligence process, and you have heard about an organization called a “REC”, or Regional Extension Center. What is a REC, and how might it help you select and implement an EHR system?
Regional Extension Centers were provided for in the HITECH Act to assist certain medical providers in selecting and implementing EHR systems in medical practices and hospitals. Their efforts are concentrated in certain sectors, including FQHCs and other “Priority Primary Care Providers”, groups of 10 or fewer PCP’s who also provide access for underserved patient populations. The ONC has now awarded grants to 60 organizations covering most geographic areas of the country. Many of them are academic institutions associated with community organizations, state organizations working on state health IT plans, private organizations working in health quality and others.
RECs receive funding equal to 90% of their budgets for the first two years, but then are expected to generate at least 90% of their budgets from other sources – including membership fees from providers.
RECs are tasked with providing services to the target provider populations to “jump start” the process of selecting and implementing EHR systems – and helping providers achieve “meaningful use” criteria.
Their services to providers include:
- Outreach & Enrollment
- Training and Education
- Readiness and Workflow Assessment
- Assistance with Vendor Selection
- Project Planning
- Project Monitoring/Management
- Application Training
- Workflow Redesign
- System Customization
- Infrastructure Development
- Interface Development
- EHR Meaningful Use Reporting
Quite an impressive list – and services most providers could benefit from! So ask your EHR consultant about the benefits of signing up with the local REC.
In Part II, I’ll discuss the benefits of signing up, who is not eligible for REC services, and why you may want a consultant or other assistance to select and implement an EHR system in your office.