Success by Association: Mississippi REC Hits its Goal

Mat Kendall and David Bergman | June 9, 2011

Another Regional Extension Center (REC) has met its target for signing up priority primary care providers (PPCPs). The REC for Mississippi, eQHealth Solutions, Inc. Exit Disclaimer, hit the 100 percent mark on May 17, 2011. 

The Mississippi REC took an early lead in the effort to help PPCPs on the road to meaningful use of certified electronic health record (EHR) products. Just three months into the process, the REC had signed up 25 percent of its goal of 1,000 practices. At the six-month mark, more than 600 providers were signed-up, including 220 providers associated with the state’s network of community health centers (CHCs).

And now, the REC has met its sign-up goal.

How the REC Met its Goal

Randy Bordelon, Mississippi REC program director, credits the cooperative efforts of the REC with the state’s medical associations, including the Mississippi Primary Health Care Association Exit Disclaimer (which represents the state’s CHCs), the Mississippi State Medical Association Exit Disclaimer and the various regional medical societies across the Magnolia State. The REC also reached out to critical access and rural hospitals through the Mississippi Hospital Association Exit Disclaimer and the Mississippi Rural Health AssociationExit Disclaimer.

According to Bordelon, the associations help identify qualified providers, and REC staff members provided articles for association publications, participated in workshops and seminars, and attended meetings. It helped open the door for face-to-face meetings with physicians and created a win-win-win situation for the REC, the providers, and their patients.

“We understand that small and rural providers face numerous challenges in providing quality care to their patients,” says Bordelon. “By assisting them with implementing an electronic health record, [we can help them] become more efficient and better serve more patients.”

What the REC Offers

The Mississippi REC has a full staff of health IT consultants ready to help practices of different types achieve meaningful use. All the consultants have a combination of clinical, technical, and project management experience. Some have worked in outpatient clinics and practices, while others have focused on hospitals. “A good mix of staff experience helps us deal with different practice situations,” says Bordelon. “We can send in a team member who has experience for that clinical setting.”

For providers still using paper records, the REC provides a readiness assessment to determine if they are ready to make the transition. They identify gaps, analyze workflow, and help with change management. Once the practice is ready to start considering different certified EHR products, REC staff use system and vendor selection tools to narrow the field and help them choose the right product for the practice. After the practice chooses the product and vendor, a REC staff member serves as a project manager, overseeing timelines and communication, and making sure the practice achieves meaningful use.

For practices that already have an EHR, REC staff focuses on maximizing and optimizing their system. Are they using it correctly? Do they have adequate privacy and security protections? What do they need to do to help their practice achieve meaningful use?

Bordelon says that education and information are a big part of the REC’s role with providers and the medical associations. “Everyone wants to understand meaningful use,” he says.

The Mississippi REC goes even further than that—it helps providers achieve meaningful use.

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