RECs achieve significant EHR adoption milestone

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Farzad Mostashari, the national health IT coordinator, recently announced that regional extension centers (RECs) have signed up more than 100,000 physicians in their goal of encouraging widespread adoption of clinical informatics systems, according to Healthcare IT News.

The announcement comes shortly before the deadline of the project at the end of the year, and marks a significant step forward in the nationwide healthcare IT adoption initiative. Around 70 percent of primary care physicians in rural areas are working with a REC in order to implement a medical informatics network. In some states, adoption rates are nearing 100 percent, according to Mostashari.

“Our challenge to [regional] extension centers is that every Medicaid provider that [they are] working with must get $22,000 in the next six months, not because of the money but because it’s a concrete indicator of our commitment to them that this is real,” Mostashari said, as quoted by the news source, speaking of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ meaningful use federal financial incentives.

The 62 RECs established by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) assist healthcare providers with the transition from paper-based records to clinical informatics networks. Helping physicians choose a vendor and project management are two primary functions of RECs, in addition to providing physicians with the training and technical support functions they need to use the systems effectively. Funding for the RECs is dispersed as part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act.

Earlier this year, the ONC awarded $12 million to critical access hospitals through its network of RECs to aid with the migration to medical informatics networks. A total of more than $32 million has been spent in encouraging healthcare providers to transition to electronic health records.