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More About Regional Extension Centers

RECs Explained

By Shahid N. Shah; MS 

www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

The Meaningful Use and Certification requirements along with the myriad of government regulations around Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements will be too complicated for most physicians to understand and manage on their own. To help out small practices, one of the interesting things funded by the HITECH Act was the creation of the Health Information Technology Extension Program. Via that program, the Department of Health and Human Services is required to invest in Regional Extension Centers (called “RECs” and pronounced like “wrecks”). RECs are designed to offer consulting and technical support to physicians in order to help accelerate adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs).

Purpose

The purpose of the RECs is to provide guidance on which products to buy, help reduce prices of software through group purchase agreements, and give technical assistance on implementation and deployment. These services will be free of charge to physicians. However, keep in mind that all RECs are non-profit organizations and most have little or no inherent knowledge about EMRs, EHRs, implementations, deployments, computer skills, etc.; initially they are groups that responded to the grant request in a manner that fulfilled documentation required by the government and will be provided government money to help Physicians become meaningful users [MUs].

No Cost Advice

In the short run no RECs will be very good because they will all be inexperienced. Over the long run, some RECs will become very good at their jobs while other RECs will be mediocre or not good at all; only time will tell which ones will be superb and helpful vs. not. Since RECs will be paid by the government for each physician they sign up, RECs will be very eager to approach and conduct outreach to sign you up. And, it will not cost you anything to sign up and the advice and assistance will be free to MDs.

Assessment

Keep in mind, though, that whenever something is free to you, always think about why it’s free. What does the organization get out of providing you free advice, assistance, knowledge, etc. – in the case of RECs, it’s is money from the government. The good news is that RECs are being told by the government that will only be paid if you become a “meaningful user.” However, the bad news is that some RECs will not be able to do a good job and may give you bad advice.

Conclusion

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On Regional Extension Centers [RECs]

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Another New Governmental Machination?

[By Staff Reporters]

A Regional (health information) Extension Center [REC] is similar to a Health Information Organization [HIO] that brings together healthcare stakeholders within a defined geographic area and governs Health Information Exchange [HIE] among them for the purpose of improving health and care in that community.

Fundamental to this definition is the meaning of Health Information Exchange and Health Information Organization. A Health Information Organization (HIO) is an organization that oversees and governs the exchange of health-related information among organizations according to nationally recognized standards.

Thus, the goal of an REC is to act as a local support organization to help doctors install electronic health records and use them to achieve improved quality, efficiency, and continuity of care.

Past and Present

The RECs are based on the example of agricultural extension offices, established over 100 years ago by Congress, which offered rural outreach and educational services across the country.

Today, the HITECH Act amends Title XXX of the Public Health Service Act by adding Section 3012, Health Information Technology Implementation Assistance. This section provides supportive services for the rest of the HITECH Act. Section 3012 (a) establishes the Health Information Technology Extension Program (Extension Program). The Extension Program provides grants for the establishment of Health Information Technology 

Assessment

Link: Regional Extension Center

Link: http://www.chhs.ca.gov/initiatives/HealthInfoEx/Documents/SUMMIT%20DOCUMENTS/RECSummitSlides_FinalDraft-7-15.pdf

Link: HIT Extension Program – Regional Centers Cooperative Agreement Program

Conclusion

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