16 Sep What is a REC?
The HITECH Act includes provisions for creation of Regional Extension Centers (REC). The REC’s charge is to “offer technical assistance, guidance, and information on best practices to support and accelerate health care provider’s efforts to become meaningful users of EHRs.”
Each state/region that has received funding from the federal government to create an REC, has variations on how they plan to carry out their mission. Some regions are developing relationships with selected EHR vendors after a vetting process and will work most closely with the selected companies. Other regions have an open-door policy and will support any software that is certified for Meaningful Use (MU). (Remember those certification processes have just begun, and it will take a few months before the process is complete for many vendors.) Most RECs are focused on assisting primary care physicians with priority attention to small to medium-sized practices (generally under 10 providers.)
Regardless of how your REC may operate, it is imperative that you remember two things:
1. Pediatricians have unique EHR needs
2. No matter what process your REC develops, the REC must support any MU certified software that the provider decides is right for their practice, regardless of whether it is on their “short list of selected products.”
So, do your homework and make sure you have a Pediatric-focused EHR that has all the functionality you need. But, consider tapping the expertise of your REC to help you decide how to know if you are ready, how to navigate the hardware/IT infrastructure support process and to help plan the conversion process from paper to EHR. Some RECs are fully funded and their expertise comes at no cost to the physician. Some RECs require a contractual fee. If you are struggling with what feels like a daunting process of moving into the world of EHR, consider reaching out to your REC to find out what resources are available to you.