Meaningful Use; Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act; American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; Regional Extension Centers….Physicians didn’t sign up for this. There is no “just practicing medicine” anymore. Finding your way through the maze of government jargon and reimbursement requirements is a tedious but, unfortunately, necessary task.
The HITECH Act created and funded Regional Extension Centers to offer technical assistance, guidance, and information on best practices to support and accelerate health care providers’ efforts to become meaningful users of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Across the U.S., the extension program will establish an estimated 70 (or more) regional centers, each serving a defined geographic area. The regional centers will support at least 100,000 primary care providers, through participating non-profit organizations, in achieving meaningful use of EHRs and enabling nationwide health information exchange.
In Pennsylvania, PA REACH East (www.pareacheast.org) is a partnership between Crozer-Keystone Health System, Public Health Management Corporation, Lancaster General Hospital, the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians and Thomas Jefferson University.
The New Jersey Health Information Technology Extension Center (www.njhitec.org) is a partnership with the state and the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.
Following are some questions answered by PA REACH. Contact the appropriate organization to help better understand your obligation to achieve meaningful use.
What is “meaningful use?” This is the term being used by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to describe the criteria eligible providers must meet to qualify for to receive future financial incentives for using electronic health records (EHRs) in a meaningful manner.
What will PA REACH East do? As a designated federal Regional Extension Center, PA REACH East will offer education, technical assistance, guidance, and information on best practices to support and accelerate health care centers’ and providers’ efforts to become meaningful users of certified electronic health record (EHR) systems. These services will be provided on a subsidized basis to eligible entities, with priority to be given to primary care providers and certain critical access hospitals. Services also will be available on a fee basis to all health care providers in the state.
In particular, PA REACH East will use its HIT/EHR knowledge and experience to work one-on-one with small practices and offer technical expertise in managing relationships with vendors, share knowledge of software implementation, and provide an understanding of work-flow change and quality improvement methods.
How many priority primary-care providers and critical access hospitals will PA REACH East serve? During its first two years of operation, PA REACH East will provide individualized technical assistance to 5,700 priority primary-care providers.??Nationally, the Regional Extension Centers are expected in their first two years of operation to help over 100,000 priority primary care professionals become meaningful users of certified EHR technology.
How will support be prioritized across providers? Following the completion of assessments, PA REACH East will give priority for intensive, individualized technical assistance to primary care providers in individual and small-group practices (fewer than 10 clinicians with prescriptive privileges), community and rural health centers, rural and critical access hospitals, and other settings predominately serving uninsured, underinsured, or medically underserved patients.