Survey: Most RECs Plan To Stay Open After Federal Funding Expires

May 5, 2014 in News

The majority of regional extension centers intend to remain open even after their federal funding expires at the end of this year or in early 2015, according to a new Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society survey, Healthcare IT News reports (Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 5/2).

Background

The 2009 economic stimulus package’s HITECH Act provided about $688 million in federal funding to create 62 RECs to help 100,000 health care providers meet meaningful use criteria.

Health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Without further action from the federal government, funding for RECs will expire in 2015 (iHealthBeat, 3/24).

According to Healthcare IT News, 147,000 health care providers have enrolled with an REC. Of those:

  • More than 124,000 have adopted EHRs; and
  • 70,000 have demonstrated meaningful use.

In addition, 872 critical access hospitals have received meaningful use incentives because of the support they received from RECs (Healthcare IT News, 5/2).

Survey Details

For the 2014 HIMSS Regional Extension Center Survey, researchers between December 2013 and January interviewed 39 officials representing 37 RECs across 35 states. The survey participants included at least one respondent from all nine census regions in the U.S. (HIMSS survey, 4/30).

Survey Findings

The survey found that:

  • 92% of participants said they were focusing on achieving financial stability for their REC;
  • 85% said that they planned to remain open after federal funding ends;
  • 72% said they had applied for no-cost extensions of the funding from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT;
  • Nearly 50% said that they are developing strategic partnerships with other organizations in their service areas; and
  • Nearly 50% said they have received state funding to remain open (Pedulli, Clinical Innovation Technology, 5/2).
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