Health Information Technology Regional Extension Centers

David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, has been putting out some letters about HIT and EHR in particular. In his latest letter he talks about the recent announcement of the HIT Regional Extension Centers designed to assist and help with the implementation, selection and use of EHR software. Here’s a portion of his letter:

Key to the successful adoption and meaningful use of EHRs is the assurance that providers have the help and guidance they need to select, implement and maintain a certified EHR system. In addition, we need the various and often disparate local, statewide and regional systems to work together, regardless of location and differing state and federal standards or policies, to enhance patient care.

Toward that end, the first grant program, the Health Information Technology Extension Program, will fund dozens of Health Information Technology Regional Extension Centers across the country. The regional extension centers will offer hospitals and clinicians hands-on technical assistance to support meaningful use of certified EHR systems. These modern health IT centers could be considered as somewhat akin to the agricultural extension centers Congress set up early in the 20th century, which helped to support vast improvements in the efficiency, quality and productivity of the agricultural sector.

We hope this 21st century health IT extension program will have a similarly profound effect in helping health care providers through a major transition in our nation’s health system, ultimately improving the quality, efficiency, reliability, availability and equity of care for every American.

A national Health Information Technology Research Center (HITRC) will also be created. The HITRC will help the regional centers collaborate with each other, and it will serve as a national clearinghouse to identify and share best practices and experiences so that providers can learn from what others have gone through as they’ve put such systems in place.

You can read more about the details of the grant program on Chilmark’s post about the grant money.

Honestly, I look at all the millions of dollars that they’re going to pour into these programs and I wonder if any of them will have any real impact. They have to all be non profit organizations which is probably a good thing. However, I won’t be surprised if smart people find ways to siphon off the money given to these organizations for themselves. Maybe that’s the cynic in me. Maybe it’s just the reality of grant money.

I do like that they’re having a national organization that will hopefully aggregate data from the various regional extension centers. I think the problem will be that the national organizations won’t have any teeth to be able to ensure that the regional extension centers to do their job and share the information.

I’m hopeful that I’m wrong. I’m really interested to see the types of resources that come out of these centers. They should be creating a lot of really great stuff and helping lots of people. I’ll be interested to see which organizations get the grants. Will they be new or existing ones?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • It has proved much easier to steal more, more quickly and for a longer period of time from wealthy investors than from the government – unless former businessmen are aiding their ertswhile companies in how they run a war. So how about addressing the kinds of support and educational activities you would like to see these centers provide. I would like to know what your ideas are on that.

  • This seems ripe for abuse. Are there any systems in place that would prevent an EMR vendor from setting up one or more non-profit regional HITRCs that steered money back to the EMR company?

  • These centers will be “cheering stations” for Allscrips and GE EMR systems. They are exactly what we DONT need!!!

    The gov’t should put their money into advancing connectivity.

    “Let the free market operate” “The gov’t should stay out of our business!”

  • Charles,
    I think I did one post on it earlier. I’ll find it and do another post talking about suggestions on what I think should be done.

    It’s more likely that what joeman describes will happen. A non-profit HITRC will be created that will basically direct people to certain EMR vendors. It’s amazing how far a nice meal and a golf game will go with people working for a non-profit. Sad, but true.

    I’ve advocated for a while that the government spend it’s money on creating a standard and sharing data between clinics since no one else is going to fund that initiative which is oh so important. So, I’m totally with you on that account.

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