The Maine Regional Extension Center (MEREC), operated by Maine’s health information exchange (HIE), HealthInfoNet, has recently become one of the first regional extension centers in the country to reach its enrollment target.
MEREC is also one of the only RECs that require providers to contract with a particular electronic health record (EHR) vendor before they can enroll according to Todd Rogow, Director of IT and the MEREC. Even though this made the enrollment process take a little longer, he said having this important step completed means Maine providers can move more quickly through the next two milestones and achieve meaningful use.
The MEREC didn’t charge anything for their services, and instead passed most of the federal money through to the vendors or provider practices themselves. The MEREC will continue to do so in the form of milestone payments.
Now that all of Maine’s enrolled providers have met milestone one (enrollment), MEREC staff will help these practices meet milestones two and three, which include implementing a certified EHR, meeting meaningful use stage one, and connecting to the statewide health information exchange (HIE), a requirement for enrolled providers to receive the third milestone payment. To make HIE connection viable for smaller practices, HealthInfoNet will not charge enrolled practices with 10 or fewer providers for the first year.