One year ago today, the American Recovery and Reinvestment (ARRA) was signed into act.  The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which is part of ARRA, authorized the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to develop $2 billion worth of new programs to help providers become meaningful users of EHRs and to pave the way for the creation of an advanced electronic health information system. On top of the incentive program that will reimburse qualified physicians who purchase, implement and meaningfully use a certified EHR system, additional programs have been created, such as workforce grants and the establishment of Regional Extension Centers (RECs).

Now that ‘meaningful use’ and certification standards for EHR technology are close to final, ONC is focusing its efforts on establishing RECs nationwide to assist physicians in the selection, implementation, and optimization of EHR technology to meet meaningful use criteria. On February 12, ONC announced the first 32 recipients of the REC awards. These recipients include:

  • Altarum Institute
  • Arkansas Foundation For Medical Care
  • CIMRO of Nebraska
  • Colorado RHIO
  • District of Columbia Primary Care Association
  • Fund for Public Health NY
  • Greater Cincinnati HealthBridge
  • Health Choice Network, Inc.
  • HealthInsight
  • Iowa IFMC
  • Kansas Foundation for Medical Care Inc.
  • Key Health Alliance (Stratis Health)
  • Lovelace Clinic, New Mexico
  • Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
  • MetaStar, Inc.
  • National Center for Primary Care, Morehouse School of Medicine
  • New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC)
  • North Carolina Area Health Education Centers Program
  • Northern California Regional Extension Center
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Northwestern University
  • OCHIN Inc. (Primary)
  • Ohio Health Information Partnership
  • Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality
  • Purdue University
  • Qsource (Tennessee)
  • Qualis Health
  • Rhode Island Quality Institute
  • Southern California Regional Extension Center
  • Vermont Information Technology Leaders
  • VHQC and the Center for Innovative Technology, for The Virginia Consortium
  • West Virginia Health Improvement Institute Inc.

 

 In the year since ARRA was signed into act, the federal government’s involvement and investment in HIT has increasingly become the driving force in widespread adoption and ‘meaningful use’ of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. It will be interesting to see if the billions of awarded dollars through federal programs- like the RECs- will truly pave the way for a national HIT infrastructure. And in several years, it will be most important to see of improvements and investment in HIT will translate to improved healthcare delivery and health outcomes for patients.