One area of the HITECH act that I haven’t heard discussed nearly enough is the Regional Extension Centers. Sure, I’ve heard them mentioned in passing plenty of times. However, I haven’t heard any real good information on what’s being done to make sure that these RECs are going to be successful in their goal of 100,000 providers becoming meaningful users of EHR’s by 2011.
Yes, that’s a pretty big hairy goal. Especially considering the EHR adoption rates up until today. Not to mention, these Regional Extension Centers (RECs) are going to have to find a way to effectively help doctors sort through the 300+ EHR vendors that are on the market with more coming out every day. This is not an easy task to accomplish and will require a lot of great tools to do it effectively.
Shahid, The Healthcare IT guy, created an interesting post about the Regional Extension Centers where he talks about the challenge these RECs will have to “offer unbiased advice on the systems and services best suited to enable the priority primary-care providers to become meaningful users of EHRs. Regional Centers will avoid entering into business arrangements creating an actual or apparent conflict of interest.”
Can you imagine the lobbying that will happen by the big EMR vendors towards these RECs? The reality is, who else can these RECs turn to for “unbiased” advice on EMR selection and implementation? I can’t imagine that the people behind these RECs just want to be a marketing front for EMR vendors who pay to lobby them. Seems pretty clear that you have to be really careful where you get your information.
Of course, this is just one of the many challenges that these RECs face. Personally, I hope that the RECs are incredibly successful and do a great job assisting doctors to find and implement the right EHR. However, if these RECs aren’t careful, they can actually have the opposite effect on EHR adoption.
If people have more information on these RECs, I’d love to hear more. I’m interested in doing what I can to help these RECs succeed.