RECs on a Mission: Assessing the Regional Extension Center Program

Chris Dimick | Journal of AHIMA | November 1, 2011

The Regional Extension Centers (RECs) faced a near impossible mission.

Develop from scratch 62 RECs nationwide, staff them with in-demand health IT consultants, and then convince 100,000 small physician practices and critical access hospitals to either implement an electronic health record system or amp up their current one to meet the government's meaningful use EHR incentive program. And do it in 24 months.

The RECs were not asked to target large healthcare systems, the types of providers most likely to pursue EHR implementations. Instead they were assigned a group historically reluctant to splurge on health IT: small physician practices and hospitals, which traditionally have found EHRs too expensive, too time-consuming, and too difficult to implement and manage.