Should Working with RECs Be an EMR Stimulus Requirement?

I know that many of you don’t read all of the past comments made on this site. So, I’m sure many of you missed when DonB asked Bobby Gladd the following question:
Could you explain your statement at the end of the fifth concern: “I would have added another MU criterion: require working with the RECs as a condition of incentive money eligibility;”

Bobby, from this REC blog, offered the following well thought out answer:

HHS is spending nearly a billion dollars on us RECs, yet we then have to go out and “recruit” providers, doing months of cold-call sales?

That just opens the government up to right-wing charges that Obama is simply blindly throwing money around at cross-purposes.

Many vendors and VARs see us as “competition,” which, in my view, is why we’re seeing some of the RECs doing “preferred EHR vendor” deals — basically trying to ensure that they don’t get cut out of the picture. Were I a viable vendor in a REC state that had excluded me, I might want to consider suing. It reeks of potential conflict-of-interest. Moreover, what about the true interest of the clinician? (Which is why we are officially and assiduously “vendor neutral.”)

Why should a practice work with us? Because we have broad and deep expertise available, soup-to-nuts, at a pittance of the cost of private commercial consultants.

It just begs the question of why RECs are even necessary. Maybe we’re not. Maybe docs can go it alone, or pay commercial consulting rates (that would eat up all their incentive money and then some). However, having decided that RECs are a value-adding thing, I fail to see the wisdom in making us optional.

Many of the RECs are going to fail. They won’t even get to demo their implementation/adoption support chops, they will fail because of the recruiting resistance, and will have burned through most of their initial HHS funding, and will have to start laying people off (I won’t be allowing mold to accrue on my CV).

To date, the leading REC in terms of recruitment is Qualis. Halfway through the expected recruitment period, they are at 9.2% of goal, notwithstanding a Code Red All-Hands-On-Deck recruitment effort.

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.


  • I have talked to number of RECs that have already recruited 30-50% of the total physicians they are targetting in their state or territory. My impression is that physician interest has been great thus far. Most of these organizations have thrown up a website and done some direct mailings, but no cold calling.

    It is tricky to have a “preferred list” of EHRs, but the market is too fragmented to not have a preferred list. Get your state medical association or some other respectable third party to consult on picking the EHR vendors. Look at the vendors that already have a large footprint in your geographic area. Look at the user satisfaction surveys. Look at cost. It is better to select a handful of high quality solutions and negotiate a favorable group price, than to offer little expertise because the systems being implemented are so fragmented.

    ONC needs to get this party started. Put out the MU rules and stop making RECs second guess themselves by sending conflicting signals (you must select at least two preferred vendors……oh did we forget to tell you that you need to be unbiased; you should help physicians in practices with less than 10 providers………..oh did we forget to tell you that private practices might not qualify).

  • Bobby G’s comments in his blog about how limited the resources are for RECs to help providers select and implement certified EHR technology certainly struck a cord with us. We have tried to summarize some information about RECs, why providers should sign up with them, and what they do and don’t do at and There are also many different organizations that have received REC contracts – it will be interesting to see which organizational form is the most successful.

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