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RECs Will Stay Open, Even as ONC Funding Dries Up, HIMSS Report Says

May 1, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

Funding for regional extension centers (RECs) from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) ends at the close of 2014, but respondents to a recent survey indicated they will continue to do business, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) reports.

Results from 2014 HIMSS Regional Extension Center Survey showed that:

  • 85 percent of respondents indicated they did not expect to close their doors;
  • 28 percent of the 36 executive respondents reported their funding ran out before the end of February 2014;
  • About three-quarters (72 percent) had applied for a no-cost extension of their ONC funding;
  •  Nearly half are creating strategic partnerships with other organizations in their service area; and
  • Almost half reported that they have received state funding to maintain operations. 

“According to our results, the survey respondents understand the need for and value of collaborative efforts with other RECS and organizations to support and be part of the services they offer,” Lisa Gallagher, vice president, technology solutions, HIMSS, said in a statement. Gallagher explained that 92 percent of the respondents indicated they are focused on financial sustainability for their REC, with various funding options and educational support from ONC/CMS cited to help maintain the services offered.  “The survey respondents also offer a positive outlook for their REC as they continue focus on future endeavors,” she said.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) introduced RECs into the healthcare lexicon with these state-based and regional organizations designed to help eligible providers achieve meaningful use. There are 147,000 providers now enrolled with an REC, and more than 124,000 of those providers are now live with an EHR; 70,000 have demonstrated meaningful use.

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