Regional extension centers (RECs) — created to assist providers in electronic health record (EHR) implementation and health IT needs— now support more than 100,000 providers to demonstrate Stage 1 of meaningful use, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).
The RECs cut across and deeply penetrate all healthcare settings, geography, and specialty across the U.S., focusing on primary care and rural and underserved providers, Karen DeSalvo, M.D., national coordinator for health IT, wrote in a Sept. 17 blog post co-authored with Kimberly Lynch, director, office of programs and engagement at ONC.
RECs are partnered with over 150,000 providers across the country—44 percent (139,000) of all primary care providers and more than 13,000 specialists—and helped 91 percent (over 139,000) of those providers adopt an EHR system. The REC network also includes 54 percent of all rural providers, 80 percent of all critical access hospitals (CAHs), and 83 percent of all community health centers, according to the blog post.
“Through their work, RECs have developed strong relationships with the nation’s providers, establishing themselves as a credible and capable resource. This trust is all the more important as many small practices are also small businesses, and the livelihood of these providers, their staff and the neighbors they serve are impacted by the tremendous technological investments and operational changes practices make to provide better care,” DeSalvo and Lynch wrote.
Today, 93 percent of RECs are expected to be sustainable at the conclusion of the initial ONC investment. “We are proud of the hard work of the RECs and the dedication to bring 100,000 primary care providers to achieve meaningful use. We look forward to the much more being done—and yet to be done—to achieve the vision of better health and better healthcare,” DeSalvo and Lynch said.