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Regional Extension Centers (Finally) Help Docs Get Incentives

Posted on August 3, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

For a while there, it seemed like the RECs didn’t have their act together, particularly when it came to reaching out to and closing the deal with doctors. Getting the right person on the phone wasn’t that easy, in fact. Well, times change. A new report suggests that the RECs have gotten on top of things.

The new study, which was issued by the General Accounting Office, concludes that healthcare providers who partnered with a REC — a step which involves a modest fee — were more than twice as likely to get an incentive payment under the Medicare incentive program.  The data in the report comes from 2011, and drew on varied government sources.

On a related note, the GAO reported that 2,802 hospitals and 141,649 professionals registered for the Medicare incentive program last year. Of that group 761 hospitals and 56,585 professionals got incentive payments through Medicare.

The agency also took a look at which types of hospital were more likely to get the Medicare incentive, and got some unsurprising results (summary courtesy of EMR Daily News):

Critical access hospitals were less than half as likely to earn incentives as acute care hospitals.

Hospitals in the top third of size (measured by number of beds) were 2.4 times more likely than hospitals in the bottom third to earn an incentive payment.

Nonprofit and for-profit hospitals were 1.1 and 1.5 times more likely than government-owned hospitals, respectively, to receive an incentive payment.

Only one in ten (12.2 percent) of eligible rural hospitals were awarded Medicare EHR incentive payments.

Taken as a whole, I  see this as a “good news/bad news” situation. One the one hand we have the welcome news that the REC program is actually delivering on its promise, something I imagine we’re all glad to see.

On the other, the critical access/rural hospital numbers are simply unacceptable. There’s no reason that people in these hospitals would be any less capable of meeting Meaningful Use standards, but they lack the staff and capital needed to push their efforts along. Ultimately, this could lead to a major disparity in care for Americans living in remote areas.

I’m not sure what the answer is here — other than perhaps a FAT load of grants for such hospitals helping them with MU efforts — but something has to be done.  I’m pretty sure that “the rich hospitals get richer” wasn’t HHS’s intent for MU.

EMR Device Connectivity, RECs, and Meaningful Use Resources

Posted on July 29, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Time again to take a quick look around the twittersphere to see the various discussions happening around EMR and EHR. I should take a poll and see how many of my readers are on Twitter and how many haven’t yet found the beauty that is Twitter.


I agree that device connectivity and integration is going to be very important as we move towards EHR. In fact, I don’t think that integration is getting enough focus and emphasis in hospitals. I think we need to see more of that or we’re going to run into troubles and miss out on some great opportunities.


This tweet is actually pretty obvious. You can basically only work with a REC if you’re going to go after meaningful use. Are there any RECs that will work with you if you’re not planning to pursue meaningful use? I’m still skeptical that many RECs have provided a good return on the money they’ve received.


This really is a nice resource that Farzad points out. However the thing that stuck out to me was the objectives of meaningful use:
1. Improve Quality, Safety, Efficiency
2. Engage Patients & Families
3. Improve Care Coordination
4. Improve Public and Population Health
5. Ensure Privacy and Security for Personal Health Information

Do you think that meaningful use is meeting these objectives?

RECs Expanding “Preferred” Vendor List to Meet Goals

Posted on November 4, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ve gotten word from a couple of different places now that a number of RECs have had to open up another RFP to increase their “preferred” (or whichever term they like to use) EMR vendor list in order to reach the number of meaningful EHR users they need to reach.

Most of you that have read my stuff for a while know how much I dislike how many of the RECs approached the EMR selection process. There are a few RECs that have done a great job of remaining neutral and supporting any and all certified EHR vendors. I applaud their efforts.

I’m just really glad that doctors weren’t fooled by RECs’ preferred vendor lists. The idea that a REC could identify the appropriate EHR vendor for such a wide variety of doctor specialties, sizes, etc is just wrong. I’m glad that the net has been widened by many RECs even if their hand seems to be kind of forced into it to meet their numbers.

I’m fine with RECs specializing in certain EHR software. There’s no way they can be experts in all 300+ EHR software. However, the EMR selection should be driven by the doctors and practice managers and then the RECs support the EMRs selected most often by the actual users.

I guess now we’ll see if RECs start searching for the low hanging fruit to meet their numbers.

Is There An Alternative To The RECs?

Posted on July 10, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

A few days ago, I wrote a column for sister blog EMRandHIPAA dishing out scathing criticism of the Regional Extension Center (REC) program.

Not one to mince words, I confess I was a bit merciless in my critique, slamming the RECs as virtually useless. (Yes, I’m sure they’ve had the occasional success, but far too few to justify their existence  — or so it seems from my vantage point.)  The column smoked out a few REC defenders, but most  people who commented seemed to share my frustration.

All that being said, it’s hard to argue that there’s a place for organizations that intelligently, efficiently offer EMR adoption help to smaller medical practices.  It’s all well and good to push hospitals and other institutions to go digital, but doctors are where the rubber hits the road.

So after heaping abuse on the RECs — your call as to whether I’ve been fair — I thought it might be worthwhile to offer a few alternative approaches (which could be offered singly or as a package):

* Small practices usually can’t afford top-drawer IT consultants to guide them in EMR adoption. What if the REC program existed entirely to help practices assess their workflow and clinical needs? The consultants, which could be made available for free or for a small fee, would come on site and teach practices how to think about these problems.

* The RECs could offer a very rich Web resource, including checklists and forms, helping practices create lists of automatically-generated criteria and matching those results to EMR products. Once the matching process was complete, RECs could offer phone-based or live sessions helping doctors understand how to effectively research those vendors.

* What if RECs offered intense EMR education classes, as some professional societies are beginning to do, which physician leaders could attend to gain a broader view of both business problems and technology issues.  Ideally, the classes would come with CME credits, which would definitely encourage more doctors to attend.

So, these are just a few ideas that popped into my head as I composed this article. I’d love to hear your thoughts. What services should a REC or similar organization offer to advance EMR adoption?

REC Timeline on EHR Services and Meaningful Use Vanguard Program

Posted on January 6, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In December I got an email newsletter from one of the RECs (REACH) that had some interesting information in it.

The first thing that was interesting was the number of providers that this REC had signed up along with critical access and rural hospitals. A decent number I’d say for this REC. I also love the part at the end where they said that Doctors had to sign up by the end of the year to get their “deeply discounted rates.” I’d be interested to know what the rates were before and after. Here’s the section that applies:

The Regional Extension Assistance Center for Health Information Technology (REACH) is only able to offer the federal discounts for electronic health record (EHR) services for a little while longer, under its current agreement with the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC).

REACH is currently working with 520 priority primary care providers, 56 in North Dakota and 464 in Minnesota. The program is also working with 20 critical access/rural hospitals, six in North Dakota and 14 in Minnesota.

All new REACH contracts need to be initiated before December 31 to receive the deeply discounted rates. Contact us to determine if REACH is right for you, 877-331-8783, ext. 222. Register for services >

The other interesting part from the newsletter was the ONC Meaningful Use Vanguard Program. Here’s the details as they describe it below.

Health care clinicians who have begun to make the successful transition to an EHR and are using their system as a clinical management tool have an opportunity to participate in a national movement developed by ONC called Meaningful Use Vanguard (MUV).

This exclusive group of champions of EHR adoption and meaningful use will be recognized as local leaders, advisors, and role models in the move toward an electronically-enabled health care system. There are no mandatory requirements if one is identified as a MUVer.

In addition to being recognized as a leader, MUVers can:
• Get access to an exclusive online community of EHR leaders to collaborate, participate, and advance knowledge
• Join a conversation on related topics with other MUVers regionally and nationally
• Be an advisor to REACH and ONC on testing of new tools and materials
• Give feedback on meaningful use and other policy developments

MUVers are health care clinicians who meet any of the following criteria:
• Made the transition to paperless records
• Applied experience in using EHR as a clinical management tool
• Experience with data exchange (eRx or labs)
• Experience with advanced application of EHR (e.g. population health management)
• A willingness to share their experience and knowledge with others

REACH may be contacting you about becoming a MUVer. REACH clients who are interested in this recognition, should contact their REACH consultant.

I’d love to hear some ongoing feedback from someone in the meaningful use vanguard (or should I say a MUVer) program. I’ll be interested to see what information and resources are provided to the MUVer doctors.

More EHR REC Discussion

Posted on October 15, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

My previous post about the RECs possible failure has brought on some really in depth discussion on the topic of RECs and the challenges and opportunities they face. I encourage you to go and read all of the comments and join in on the conversation, but here’s a few of the in depth comments on that thread (since I know that many of you don’t read the comments):

Margarlit Gur-Arie, from On Health Care Technology, started the discussion with these comments:

1) Doctor’s aren’t moving as fast as the money is flowing
The money is NOT flowing independent of the docs’ movement. The money only flows AFTER a particular doc decides to “move”. RECs are operating on a P4P model.

2) The market already delivers on what RECs promise
The REC promises to touch every single small practice in rural and underserved areas. The market was never able to do so because the cost of selling to these docs was way to high. The RECs also promise to deliver about $5000 in consulting services to each provider practically for free and no strings attached. The market never in its wildest dreams offered anything like that.

3) “Preferred vendor lists” limit choice and free markets
Every consultant employed by a practice usually narrows the choices down based on research and knowledge of the market (some do it for kick-back). The RECs are going through a process to establish vendors capabilities and willingness to serve a particular State needs. The “free market” is just fine. The RECs are operating within that market. Not to mention that RECs only make recommendations. They will work with any vendor that a particular provider chooses.

4) RECs won’t get doctors to “meaningful use” fast enough
Fast enough for what? Incentives? I thought doing a good job at selecting and implementing a proper EHR is more important than a few thousand dollars handout. The goal is for the use to be meaningful to the practice. The rest will take care of itself.

5) The REC model leads to under-staffed, ephemeral entities
How so? Every start-up starts small. Some grow bigger and some die. This is exactly what will happen to these 62 start-ups. I’ve seen RECs hire and train pretty talented folks in rural areas. Salaries expectations are lower and with the current unemployment, it doesn’t seem to be such a monumental task to find good talent if you know where to look. I actually think that RECs are in a better position to find talent than national vendors.

Nothing is ever perfect, and as you know, I have been critical of many other “initiatives”, but I think that the REC concept is a valiant attempt to reduce disparities and bring technology and better health care to traditionally neglected populations and their equally neglected doctors. This is the #1 reason I want to see the RECs succeed.

My response was the following:

1. So, it’s poorly worded. The fact doctors are too slow to implement EMR means the RECs won’t be able to “perform” and won’t see money flowing.

2. Where did you get that RECs are touching “every single small practice in rural and underserved areas.” I’ve seen them mostly operating in big cities. Is there part of their mandate that I’m not remembering? $5000 in biased consulting is not a benefit to the market. Sure, some RECs are providing quality service, but many are playing the numbers game.

3. Another one that’s poorly worded. Of course the free market can still work. In fact, it will continue to work even if doctors select a bunch of unusable EMR. It will just take a long while for it to correct that mistake. The idea of a preferred vendor list is messed up though. Why would a doctor ever leave it up to another organization to go through the EMR vendor selection process for them. It’s an impossible task to try and have a preferred vendor list when you’re representing such a diverse population. There were much better options than what most have done. Props to the RECs who have indeed stayed vendor neutral and avoided even the appearance of impropriety.

4. If RECs focus too much on providing something meaningful to the practice they’ll miss their P4P goals and then they’ll end up leaving the doctors who they were trying to help all alone with no where to turn. Or doctors will have to start paying for the service they were told was going to be free.

5. Scaling up quality staff is an incredibly hard job in any industry. Getting quality staff to come and work at a REC that may or may not exist and therefore you may or may not have a job in a year is a challenge. It’s not impossible, but is a HUGE barrier to overcome.

Of course, I’m playing devil’s advocate above. I don’t think that EVERYTHING that the RECs are doing is terrible. In fact, there are some really sincere and smart people that I’ve met that are working at the RECs. BobbyG on this thread being one of them.

Maybe one of the bright spots of the RECs is that it’s at training ground for smart people like BobbyG to get experience and connections that will allow them to be some of the future leaders in really pushing forward EHR adoption. It just seems like the money could have accomplished the same thing and better spent other ways.

Margarlit then replied:

1) If the docs don’t adopt and the RECs don’t get money, the tax payers get to keep the funds. That is as it should be.

2) Part of the RECs mandate is to service underserved and rural populations. There are plenty underserved in big cities I guess, but the intent was not to serve Cardiologists in Beverly Hills. It is exclusively about Priority Primary Care Providers (small practice & underserved). If the RECs don’t go where they were directed to go, that’s a completely different story.
Why are you assuming that the consulting is biased? What possible incentive could a REC have to be biased? Unlike many “consultants”, they don’t make more money based on a physician’s EHR choice.

3) The population served is not as diverse as you may think. Primary Care docs in small practice – that’s all the RECs currently represent. I think you know as well as I do that the main reason for EHR failure is not really the software, but the lack of planning and change management and here is where the $5000 should be spent. There are happy users for any given EHR and there are miserable failures for the same software in the exact same type of clinic. This is what needs to be addressed.

4) Most RECs are signing docs on a yearly subscription basis. We all know that a PCP small practice can be successfully implemented and brought to Meaningful Use in 3 to 4 months start to end. I don’t see a problem here. MU is really not anything too terribly onerous for Stage 1.

5) Yes, scaling up with good talent is hard. But remember, John, some of the REC grants went to entities that were already staffed (NY is a good example), other went to Universities and others to Quality Improvement organizations. Very few are starting from scratch.

All that said, I don’t think this REC business is a walk in the park and I fully expect a big chunk of RECs to disappear after 2012. But the ones that survive will be very strong and very useful public resources.

As to the EHR vendor market, there are many benefits to the docs and their patients in areas where one EHR has a large presence, particularly if it is a decent product (see eCW in NY). To be honest, I am not too terribly concerned with how vendors fare. I am more concerned with enabling information exchange and quality improvements on behalf of patients. It is easier to accomplish that with a handful of vendors instead of a gazillion disparate systems, some of which will surely go under.
Yes, we could wait for the perfect EHR to come along, but I have a funny feeling it never will, so why not do the best we can with whatever is available now? We can always make adjustments as technology grows and improves.
Right now, if we are to put a dent in the 17% GDP consumed by health care, clinical information exchange is imperative, even if it’s not perfect.

I then posted this response:

My take on the bias of RECs is that if they have a preferred EHR vendor then by its very nature it’s biased. Plus, it’s creating a bias in what I consider to be the most important part of an EMR implementation process: the EMR software selection.

So, while I do agree with you that poor planning leads to some failures, I don’t think it’s the main cause of failure. I actually think selecting the right EMR and the process that’s used to select the right EMR is the key to a successful implementation.

Part of my reasoning for this is that selecting the right EMR and having the right process for selecting an EMR creates a clinical buy in that pays off in spades when you get into the dirty details of implementing an EMR. I think lack of clinical buy in is what leads to most EMR implementation failures and that’s often directly related to the EMR selection process.

I guess that’s why I get my pantyhose all bunched up when I see the EMR selection process tainted.

Certainly a doctor could get up and running and show meaningful use in 3-4 months, but that’s going to be the rare exception. Life and their practice gets in the way and makes it take much longer. Plus, these time frames start once the providers have firmly decided to make the jump. It’s that decision that slows the process more than anything.

I don’t care about the EHR vendor market either, but I do care that the best software is implemented by doctors since that is what will lead to the best patient care and patient outcomes. I don’t want the EMR vendors to be implemented just because they have great marketers.

Health information exchange is great, but until we have them using EMR’s it’s not even a possibility. A bunch of doctors implementing unusable EMR software which they hate will do more to hamper the widespread adoption of EMR software than anything else. This is why I’m so passionate about the best EMR software being implemented. Otherwise, it will take a lot longer to reach the health information exchange nirvana.

Margalit then answered:

The REC recommended list should be created through a stringent screening process which includes RFPs, demos and I’ve heard of one very large REC which has a usability lab just for this purpose. I would hardly call this process “tainted”, particularly since the screenings seem to be performed by practicing physicians.

To David’s point, the recommended list is just the beginning. Each individual practice is then expected to go through the usual vendor selection process and any and all certified EHRs will be considered. As David noted, RECs are obligated to work with any ONC certified EHR and the particular brand will not in any way affect their payments.

I think the RECs bring to the table resources for screening vendors that a solo practitioner does not have. They are also bringing with them certain strength in negotiating favorable contractual terms with recommended vendors. This must be a good thing for the docs.
Will this change the vendor landscape to a certain degree? Yes, I believe it will, but I also believe that the vendor landscape is in dire need of some changing.

I answered:

“The REC recommended list should be created through a stringent screening process”[emphasis mine]

The problem is that many of them haven’t been stringent.

Another “should” is the RECs working with a doctor that has any certified EHR. Of course they will work with them. They need their numbers. The question is what value will they provide that physician? Physicians who don’t use their preferred EHR vendor list won’t be motivated to work with the RECs. Not to mention the overall distrust of the RECs that I’ve seen from physicians.

Margalit,
I agree that they could have used the group buying power for some real good in negotiating favorable contract terms with an EHR vendor. I just wish that they’d actually asked the doctors whom they represent which EHR vendors they should negotiate with. This would have dramatically changed my view of RECs and what they could have offered.

Just remember that change doesn’t always mean a change for good. It could be a change to something worse. I learned that very early on when I had a boss who was less than favorable. Turned out he had his weaknesses, but his future replacement had even more. Fine lesson learned.

Of course, there were some comments in between as well that are definitely worth reading. Go and read the whole thread to see what I mean.

Who said I don’t write long posts on my blogs? lol

5 Reasons Why EHR RECs Will Fail

Posted on October 14, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This article by Software Advice about the RECs offers 5 reasons why the RECs are going to fail in their mission of helping providers become meaningful users of an EMR:

  • Doctor’s aren’t moving as fast as the money is flowing
  • The market already delivers on what RECs promise
  • “Preferred vendor lists” limit choice and free markets
  • RECs won’t get doctors to “meaningful use” fast enough
  • The REC model leads to under-staffed, ephemeral entities

It’s a pretty damaging list of flaws. I’m not so sure about the second item actually working. Although, I don’t think the RECs are going to be able to do better than the market, so it still stands as a decent point.

I personally think the real problem with most of the RECs is that they’re too worried about their future business model than they are about really fulfilling the mission of helping doctors. Sadly, it’s kind of a feature of the requirements that have been imposed upon them.

Reminds me of the phrase, what you incentivize you will get. Unfortunately, the incentives are tied to numbers and not actual usefulness and quality.

REC EHR Request for Information

Posted on August 6, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I know a good number of my readers are EHR vendors and so I thought it worthwhile to post the REACH REC’s Request for Information for EHR vendors. Here’s the information from the email I received:

The Regional Extension Assistance Center for Health Information Technology for Minnesota and North Dakota (REACH) is issuing a request for information to help fulfill our common mission to assist providers in their efforts to achieve meaningful EHR use in pursuit of healthcare quality and efficiency improvements.

This RFI is the first step in a process intended to select a group of primary care, ambulatory EHR vendors to be designated by REACH as “preferred.” Through the establishment of this preferred vendor program, REACH intends to maintain ongoing, healthy competition between  participating vendors but at the same time will establish a number of ground rules and standards that will make the vendor selection process more efficient and effective. The vendors that apply for this “preferred” designation should approach this project with a willingness to be judged based on accurate contract, functionality and price differentiation.

Please visit the REACH web site to download the full Request for Information.  The response to this RFI is required by 5:00 PM on Monday, August 23, 2010.  All questions should be directed tovendors@khareach.org at least one week prior to the RFI response date.

Check the web site often as answers to questions deemed useful to all respondents will be posted there.

Thank you in advance for your interest and participation in this important initiative!

Nice to see that at least one REC is trying to get the word out about their EHR selection process instead of the process that I’ve seen coming out of many RECs where EHR vendors don’t even know their doing an RFI.

Analysis of REC Funding

Posted on June 14, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In addition to what I wrote about in my previous post, Marc Holland also does a pretty detailed analysis of the resources that RECs will have available to help resolve these physician concerns. He estimates in New York (where there are 2 RECs), they will have $4850 per physician available. The Ohio REC has $4750 per physician and the Michigan REC has $3300 per physician.

Of course, this per physician rate is a little misleading since these RECs won’t get their entire grant if they don’t perform. So, depending on how they do, it could be even less.

He also estimated based on the above numbers and the average cost for an EMR consultant that the RECs to break even would be able to provide “roughly two person-weeks in total – for contracting, for site planning, for training, for installation and first line post-implementation support.” Then, he suggested that wasn’t likely enough.

I generally agree that 2 weeks is not enough. However, it depends on the EMR consultants and more importantly, how creative the RECs become in using their EMR consultants and other resources. I’ve implemented in a clinic in two person weeks total spread out over a bit of time. So, it’s definitely possible. However, is that the best use of the resources the RECs have been given?

I personally don’t see the RECs providing this type of “free EMR consulting” services. I think the RECs are going to focus on more broad based strategies. The problem is that if you’re too broad based, then you aren’t that helpful. However, if you’re too focused then you can’t help enough people. Walking this line is going to be an interesting challenge.

Marc Holland, also suggests from the above numbers that the New York RECs alone will have to ramp up staffing to at least 100-120 analysts in the next 60-90 days. For me, that’s just funny to even think about. How many qualified EMR analysts (consultants if you will) are there in the US? And how many of those that are really qualified will want to go and work for a REC?

This is going to be really interesting to watch.

HIMSS Offers REC Affiliate Membership Program

Posted on June 4, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today I got an email from HIMSS stating that they’ve launched a “complimentary afilliate membership program for RECs.” Looks like HIMSS wants to be able to influence help these RECs with their resources and perspectives. So far they’ve only signed up 10 regional extension centers to the program. Here’s the list that signed up so you can know if you’re REC has joined up with HIMSS:

  • HITArkansas
  • Colorado Regional Extension Center
  • Illinois Health Information Tech Regional Extension Center
  • CHITREC
  • HealthBridge
  • Massachusetts eHealth Institute
  • Wide River Technology Extension Center
  • Monroe County Medical Society
  • North Texas Regional Extension Center
  • Michigan Center for Effective IT Adoption

The good news is that this is only 10 of the 60 or so RECs out there. I can’t blame them. HIMSS conference attendance is expensive and free is much better.

I guess I just have a real mixed feeling about HIMSS. As a self proclaimed physican advocate myself, I think that HIMSS has too much EMR vendor influence to be a true physician advocate. I think that being physician advocates is key to successful EMR adoption and will be essential to any REC’s success.