RECs Using Government EMR Selection Process

I’ve now heard two times of a REC using a government RFP process to narrow down the field of EMR vendors. Does this really make sense to anyone?

First, how does the government RFP process relate to small clinics (large versus small is very different)? The government clinics that are going through the RFP process are large clinics with multiple locations and much deeper reporting needs than regular clinics really need. I know. I worked for a state funded clinic for a lot of years and we needed deep reporting to be able to justify our existence.

Needless to say, government clinics have very different goals for EMR use than a normal ambulatory clinic. This is true as far as size, but also revenue. Yes, I’m not shy about saying the outside clinics worry about revenue. Many people don’t want to talk about it, but it’s the reality.

Furthermore, 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. Do we really trust the government’s bureaucratic processes to select the EMR vendors that our outside clinics are using?

Let’s just say that this doesn’t make much since to me at all. Can you imagine a bank relying on the government to select the software they’re going to use to manage money? It’s amazing that in healthcare for some reason we some people think this is a good idea.

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.


  • Here in Ohio, OHIP is the REC for most of the state, and they are in the process of an EMR RFP. This is just to establish 6-8 “preferred” vendors, and pricing is part of it. Since the REC’s are starting off supporting small practices, I think it’s a huge benefit that these 1 or 2 Physician practices don’t have to be concerned they are getting over charged by the EMR vendor. However, they are still free to decide to work with someone besides a vendor on the preferred list if they so choose.

  • Tom,
    I agree that the RECs could be an incredibly valuable asset. The key is educating doctors to not just look at the EMR list that the RECs provide since the RECs aren’t using their clinics list of priorities. If a clinic chooses a certain EMR who is on the RECs’ list, then definitely compare the pricing the REC is getting against your own price.

    I guess I’m just saying that 1. the RECs could provide even more value to practices and 2. Doctors can benefit from the REC resources if they use them wisely.

  • Jack,
    CalHIPSO is under “Northern California Regional Extension Center” and “Southern California Regional Extension Center.” LA Care is under “Local Initiative Health Authority for Los Angeles County.” Those are the names they applied for the grants. I’ll update it with their new names.


  • John,

    The REC’s across the country are looking at the NY model and they are compiling a list of maybe 10 (ten) EMR vendors that they want their constituents to contract with. The REC’s believe that a critical mass can achieve a better deal than individual deals with every customer.

    It’s not a bad idea if you’re one of the ten or eleven.

  • Richard,
    I don’t have a problem with the RECs narrowing the list down to 10 or something to get some mass for group buying. It makes sense that they have to narrow down the list since they can’t be all things for everybody. It’s their methods for narrowing down the list which is bothersome to me.

  • CalHIPSO just released an RFQ for “consultants” to pick the 3 to 5 EHR vendors that the PPCPs can choose from. How do you narrow down the hundreds of EHR products to 5? Answer….$$$$$$

  • “How do you narrow down the hundreds of EHR products to 5?”

    It’s easy. You just look at the needs of the few hundred thousand doctors in California and select the 5 EHR products that meet those needs.

    The other option is you see which ones provide the best dinners and “extras.” Then, go from there.

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