Regional Extension Centers Supporting EHR Adoption

Mat Kendall | December 14, 2010

The Regional Extension Centers (RECs) located across the country play a critical role in advancing the use of health information technology (health IT). They are charged with guiding some 100,000 health care providers in their efforts to establish and meaningfully use electronic health records in their practices. They offer a variety of services including outreach and education, and on-the-ground assistance.

With a total of 62 RECs, we are in every area of the U.S. to assist health care providers in their transition to electronic health records. To ensure that these critical partners have the knowledge and tools they need to assist their area’s health care providers, leaders from ONC’s Office of Provider Adoption Support  spend a good deal of time on the road meeting with REC staff members.

So far we’ve held workshops and seminars on topics like meaningful use, privacy and security, vendor selection, and workforce development.  We’ve had the chance to participate in events where leaders from different RECs come together to network and share best practices.  And we’ve learned about new ways we can support our RECs in their mission to help health care providers adopt electronic health records.

We are now implementing several new initiatives as a result of what we’ve learned from our REC partners:

  • An interactive online community that houses a wealth of tools and resources for RECs to obtain strategic health IT support and exchange ideas
  • An Outreach, Education, and Marketing Guide to assist RECs in their outreach efforts
  • A Meaningful Use Vanguard (MUV) cohort to showcase and reward health care providers who are true health IT ambassadors
  • Outreach campaigns to assist RECs in their recruitment of participating health care providers
  • Partnering with EHR vendors to identify best practices for working together to meet the needs of providers

These initiatives are only the beginning.

Our RECs are in the field, actively recruiting and signing on providers to their services. To date, our RECs have enrolled over 28,000 providers and for the last 12 weeks, the RECs across the country have enrolled on average over 1,000 providers a week.   Some RECs, such as Mississippi and Maine have enrolled over 60% of their overall primary care provider target.  Others, such as Colorado, the California Health Information Partnership Service Organization, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York City Washington/Idaho RECs have enrolled over 1,000 providers in the last few weeks.

We are looking forward to hearing more about the RECs and their accomplishments at the 2010 ONC Update Meeting, December 14-15, in Washington D.C. This meeting will be a great opportunity to continue our dialogue with the RECs and learn about other ways we can support them. We want to ensure that the RECs are fully equipped to help our nation’s health care providers become meaningful users of electronic health records.

To find out more about the REC program in general, visit http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/regional-extension-centers-recs.