Many practices have been following news about the HITECH stimulus program over the past year. In case you are out of the loop, The HITECH Act will reimburse eligible professionals up to $44,000 under Medicare and up to $64,000 for purchasing and implementing a certified EHR system. Last week, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published preliminary guidelines outlining how practices can sign up to participate in the program.

According to the procedure, practices will have to sign up through the Regional Extension Centers (RECs) in their state. RECs are independent organizations funded by the government and charged to help providers achieve meaningful use. Each REC may use one or more Technical Implementation Partners (TIPs) to help sign up practices. ACR2 Solutions, a firm that provides automated security risk assessments, signed up to be a TIP for the Georgia REC. Georgia’s REC is based at the Morehouse Medical School, which has received a $19 million grant to administer the REC program.

Providers must sign a non-binding agreement with their REC and complete all of the required information. A representative may sign the agreement for multi-physician practices, assuming the representative has the requisite legal authority. According to the Georgia REC, practices will charged a $500 per provider fee after November 1st. Practices who register early should be able to avoid the fee.

Practices are not required to have implemented or selected an EHR before signing up for the program. Rather, signing up with the REC is the first point in a 10-step meaningful use certification program. If your practice is interested in signing up for meaningful use, please let us know. We will be happy to review the meaningful use final rule with you and send you all the necessary paper work to sign up with the REC.

Ryan Ricks
Security Officer