EHR Regional Extension Centers (RECs)

Every day I’m seeing little pieces of information come out about the EHR Regional Extension Centers (RECs). Sadly, there’s not one central location that is covering the activity of these RECs so that doctors and clinics could quickly see what’s going on and enjoy the benefits of the millions of dollars that was given to these RECs as part of the ARRA EHR stimulus money.

Rather than just complain, I’ve started to create a wiki page that lists each of the EHR RECs, how much funding they’ve received and hopefully links to all of the REC websites. I have a long way to go, so I’d love to get your help in updating this list. So, leave a comment or feel free to update the wiki with the information you have about these RECs.

Unfortunately, I’d guess that 90% of doctors have never even heard that hundreds of millions of dollars has been given to these RECs to help them select and implement an EMR (73% of all stats are made up like this one too). Maybe that percentage is off, but the point is worth highlighting. Most doctors don’t know that there are possibly some resources that will be available to them in their EMR selection and implementation efforts.

The problem is that most of us don’t really know what type of resources these RECs are going to provide doctors. Will the RECs be providing unbiased information and resources? Will the RECs be EMR vendor salespeople dressed in non profit REC clothing? Will we see RECs who are truly doctor advocates? What type of on the ground, in your face and practical resources will these RECs provide doctors who’ve kicked against EMR (many, not all) for so many years?

This is going to be a really interesting period in the EMR world. If RECs get things right, they can have a tremendous impact for good on EMR adoption. I’m optimistically hopeful that they won’t let the money go to waste.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, 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, EXPO.health, 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.

17 Comments

  • Great resource John, I hope the wiki quickly grows. The RECs are definitely one of the more mysterious parts of HITECH at the moment. Hopefully we can all shed some light on the subject.

  • Great post john, this wiki is right on target: I have tried to track some of that info and like you say its very “bitty” and inconclusive – hopefully this will be a great resource to draw information from.

  • It’s a small contribution. A baby step in the right direction. I’d appreciate any contributions you can make to improve the resource.

  • Amazing but true – a lot of the REC efforts in California have limited their exposure to a limited list of “certified” – based on a Sacramento study that narrowed the list in 2009 to ten to 15 EHR vendors that had CCHIT certifications at the time. This is further limited in practicality to about 5 to 7 per REC. This is what is occurring in Southern California at least.

    In a nutshell – smaller regional players who did not take the time, effort and money to be politically connected at the highest level are not going to get the support of any of this money or the REC.

    The lack of clear guidelines to create an equal playing field, and the pressure for the REC’s to deliver to a mandate – have forced it to the common players. AllScripts, NextGen, eClinicalWorks and Sage for example will really win out based on REC game plans so far.

  • David W,
    Do you have a link to a website for the REC efforts in California?

    This is the second time that I’ve heard of a REC using a government RFP process to narrow down the field of EMR vendors. First, how does the government RFP process relate to small clinics (large versus small is very different)? Second, why would we look to government selection process as the right way to select software? Even in San Francisco which is the tech capital of the world there’s a whole movement to try and help improve the government software selection process since it’s such a mess.

    Excuse the rant. Although, this topic seems like a good one for a future blog post;-)

  • For the last several weeks I’ve been pulling together information on the first round of RECs and will be happy to update the websites on the EHR RECs wiki page. Since I’ve started monitoring the RECs several have new organizational names and websites. So this is definitely a moving target.

  • Thanks for your additions Terry. Together we’ll find a lot more information than if we try it alone since as you said, it’s a real moving target right now.

  • Terry,
    Great link. Seems like CALHipso covers 2 of the REC grants that were given (Northern and Southern California). Her blog is a really interesting find. It will be fun to see how well she can keep it updated. California is a HUGE task to undertake.

  • John,
    CalHIPSO is a perfect example of a moving target. Yes, CalHIPSO is the new organization name for the original 2 RECs announced in the first round – Northern California REC & Southern California REC, which covers all of California except LA & Orange Counties. Loacal Initiative Health Authority, awarded in the 2nd round, will cover LA County. CalOptima was denied funded as the Orange County REC, however it sounds like they may be appealing that denial. CalHIPSO is accepting applications for LEC – Local Extension Centers, which will take on the RECs tasks. So it looks like there will be other organizations working directly with the providers.

    OHIP – Ohio Health Information Partnership has also selected 7 organizations to perform their REC services.

  • Thanks for the extra insight. So, these larger REC organizations are going to manage these smaller REC orgs which are then going to report back to ONC. That’s quite a challenging task they have. Are the smaller RECs (or LECs) non-profit also?

  • David W’s description of CalHIPSO is spot on. This will leave out all of the small private practices that serve the majority of patients. Follow the money…none of which will go to the providers.

  • It is beyond me how any REC could have already selected EHR vendors since no EHRs have yet gone through the HHS certification process. CCHIT certification in prior years simply isn’t relevant now. I bet ONC would be horrified to hear what people in this comment string are saying…or at least, I hope they would be horrified!

    What ONC needs to do is establish a standardized and TRANSPARENT process by which the RECs select vendors. The RECs are supported by taxpayer dollars, so we all have a right to know how this vendor selection is going down. Yeesh!

  • Insightful comments and quite scary. What (if anything) could we do to bring more transparency to this process? Are we beating a dead horse?

    Interestingly, when I’ve written about RECs, many of my readers haven’t enjoyed the topic. Which is unfortunate since I find it so interesting.

  • MSP submitted a freedom of information act request against the ONC for data on which EHR vendors were picked, what the criteria were, and if any REC personnel have been hired by vendors selected. That was in April, 2011. To date, inspite of the law, there has been no response from the ONC.

    They simply ignore federal law!
    Does that mean there is much to hide, or that the ONC bureaucrats believe they are above the law and not answerable to anyone.

    Art Gasch
    Co-Author Successfully Choosing Your EMR… Wiley Press

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