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Regional Extension Centers: Top 5 Reasons RECs are "RECkless"

By Houston Neal

One of the major components of the the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was the allocation of $19 billion to jump start the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs). One of the major uses of those funds was the establishment of Regional Extension Centers (RECs) to support EHR adoption by primary care physicians.

The entity spearheading this effort, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), is specifically charged with helping 100,000 priority primary care providers become “meaningful users” of EHRs in 24 months. Eight months have passed since the ONC began funding RECs, and we’re skeptical that they will deliver.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re big advocates of EHRs. We’re glad to see such an energized EHR market. We’re just skeptical that throwing money at the problem will lead to efficient and successful adoption of this important technology.

In our opinion, there are five fundamental flaws with RECs:

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

Do you think RECs will deliver on their mission to help 100,000 providers become meaningful users of electronic health records? Record your vote, and read more details, here.

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