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Regional Extension Centers (RECs)

REC Support for New Care & Delivery Models

REC support has resulted in over 100 million patients having access to:

  1. Electronic prescriptions, resulting in reduced medication related errors;
  2. Patient visit summaries, allowing patients to more fully understand and participate in their health;
  3. Evidence-based care recommendations based on quality measures and indicators.

As trusted advisors to providers in local communities, RECs have served as change agents responding to providers’ needs. Utilizing their strengths, the RECs have developed tailored services to address the needs of providers. The main types of activities undertaken by RECs were customized to address the barriers and local market conditions of their target providers in three main domains: technical, organizational, and economical.  RECs engage in core activities (EHR implementation, health information exchange, patient and family engagement, privacy and security, EHR optimization to achieve meaningful use) as required by the program, but methods utilized vary to meet local market or individual provider needs.

With changes in physician fee schedules, migration from pay-for-performance to value based care, and other payment reform activities, RECs are responding to advanced primary care providers with regional, optimized support. Specifically, the hands-on technical assistance support providers enable health information exchange for improved and coordinated care, quickly and effectively communicate with patients and families through technology (e.g. via patient portals), connect providers and patients to state public health information systems (e.g. immunization registries) for better public health surveillance, and other optimized uses. With these enhanced capabilities, providers are able to participate in quality improvement demonstrations and programs (e.g. Million Hearts) and new care delivery and payment system reform models (e.g. Accountable Care Organizations and Patient Centered Medical Home), which are being tested regionally throughout the United States.

This section of the website will provide additional information on how RECs are making an impact at state and local level supporting provider practices with care delivery transformation and preparing them for future stages of meaningful use.

REC Support Services

In early 2013 the REC program convened a group of RECs to serve on 8 different workgroups related to optimized use of health IT and care delivery transformation. As trusted advisors and change agents in their state and local communities, RECs have developed relationships with providers to support their practices with these enhanced programs and capabilities. Through local and state environmental scan analysis, REC value assessments, and operational expansion, RECs serving in these workgroups developed plans to continue to support provider practices with transformation efforts to improve quality of care. These 8 workgroups include:

  1. Health Information Exchange
  2. Patient and Family Engagement
  3. Privacy and Security
  4. Million Hearts
  5. Health and Medical Homes / Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH)
  6. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)
  7. State Innovation Models Initiative (SIM)
  8. Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative (CPC)

Other Federal Alignment

The REC program has partnered with various federal agencies and departments to support provider practices. These include:

State Innovation Models Initiative

The State Innovation Models Initiative is providing up to $300 million to support the development and testing of state-based models for multi-payer payment and health care delivery system transformation with the aim of improving health system performance for residents of participating states. The projects will be broad based and focus on people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Million Hearts

Million Hearts™ is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The initiative will focus, coordinate, and enhance cardiovascular disease prevention activities across the public and private sectors and will scale-up proven clinical and community strategies to prevent heart attack and stroke across the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are the co-leaders of Million Hearts™ within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working alongside other federal agencies including the Administration on Community Living, National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Food and Drug Administration, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Office of the National Coordinator, and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

Learn more about what ONC is doing to support Million Hearts.

Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative

The Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) initiative is a multi-payer initiative fostering collaboration between public and private health care payers to strengthen primary care. Medicare will work with commercial and State health insurance plans and offer bonus payments to primary care doctors who better coordinate care for their patients. Primary care practices that choose to participate in this initiative will be given resources to better coordinate primary care for their Medicare patients.

FQHC Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration

The Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Advanced Primary Care Practice demonstration project, operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in partnership with the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), will test the effectiveness of doctors and other health professionals working in teams to coordinate and improve care for up to 195,000 Medicare patients. Further, it will show how the patient-centered medical home model can improve quality of care, promote better health, and lower costs.

Accountable Care Organizations

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has established a Medicare Shared Savings Program (Shared Savings Program) to facilitate coordination and cooperation among providers to improve the quality of care for Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) beneficiaries and reduce unnecessary costs. Eligible providers, hospitals, and suppliers may participate in the Shared Savings Program by creating or participating in an Accountable Care Organization (ACO).

Search by state to see where healthcare innovation is happening across the United States.