REC Transparency in EHR Selection Process

A really interesting comment about the REC EHR selection process was made over on EMR and HIPAA:

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.

I really love the idea of ONC requiring an open and transparent EHR selection process by the RECs that are getting millions of dollars from them. Remember, each of these RECs are non profit organizations that are suppose to be helping doctors show meaningful use of an EHR. Why wouldn’t they want to have a transparent EHR selection process? What are they trying to hide?

My fear is that many of the RECs are so worried about the short timelines they’ve been given that they’re just throwing darts at the wall instead of really involving people in the process. I’m a HUGE proponent of what’s been called crowd sourcing. It’s really amazing the type of information you can get to make a better decision when you involve a large group of people in the process. I hope the RECs will do just that and be transparent in their EHR selection process.

Side Note: We’re getting a lot of the RECs and their websites listed on this list of EHR Regional Extension Centers wiki page. Please add any others that you might know about.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, 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 is going to be very interesting how the RECs do in the next 2 or 3 months. My feeling is that because of the time constraint, the initial list of “preferred” EHR vendors will be made up mostly established companies. I am talking about the NextGen of the world. This may change when a review cycle of EHR vendors happen but to go with the “safe” bet makes sense given the time constraints and the fact the certification hasn’t been finalized (that’s why ONC introduced the temporary and permanent certification programs so that some type of certification program can be done as quickly as possible). I think what the RECs will focus initially on the group purchase discounts to get the cost of EHR and implemenation down as low as possible. They would have to given that the “safe” EHR vendors usually costs arm and a leg.

  • I think you’re right. They’ll go with the “safe” EMR vendors to cover their back side. Plus, most of the “safe” EMR vendors have their software so overpriced that they can offer huge “discounts” to make the REC look liked they saved the doctors lots of money. When, they actually just got the price the EMR vendor should have been charging.

    Someone on here made a nice comparison. 15 or so years ago, you wouldn’t lose your job for buying from IBM. However, if you bought from a smaller company you were at risk that it might be a bad choice. There’s sadly no benefit to RECs to take “risks” that might actually benefit the doctors they serve. Sad, but true.

  • I seem to be agreeing with both of you in regard to the ‘safe EMR vendor’ thing, but I suppose this would exist only in the initial phase.
    Later on the growing demands of medical practices will force the REC’s to look out for more competitive yet certified EMR vendors. I think here suitable modifications in the HITECT act, to strengthen the REC’s yet make them give quality service or EHR implementation to the practices is one way to tackle this ‘safe EHR vendor’ challenge.
    Also regarding the pricing of EHR’s, there many customizable and easy to use ROI tools developed by many EHR vendors, which give a fair approximation of the overall costs but very few of them cover the cost of implementing the specific needs of various specialty EHR’s.

  • I agree with everyone but there is one component that has not been discussed. The employees of the RECs have no idea what they are doing or what they are getting in to. I have met with a few of them and they are not engaged, ask silly questions and have no idea what it takes to implement a succesful EMR system. This will play out just like the old DOQit program.

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