Over the past five years, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) funded 62 Regional Extension Centers (REC) to help more than 100,000 priority primary care providers* (PPCP) adopt and use electronic health records. The program has helped more than 106,000 PPCPs to achieve meaningful use of certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT).
In 2014, RECs worked with more than 900 provider practice sites as part of the Medical Home Community of Practice’s goal to help practices transform into recognized medical homes—164 have earned recognized medical home status, 108 are directly associated with NCQA PCMH Recognition.
Approximately 50 percent of clinicians who are part of a recognized NCQA PCMH are also enrolled in a REC and nearly 77 percent of those providers are part of a level 3 PCMH medical home.**
With the REC program in its fifth year, a number of RECs are expanding services to include consulting models. One is the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO). After achieving its goal of helping almost 3,000 providers with EHR implementation, CORHIO, in cooperation with several of its former REC partners, announced it will help providers with practice transformation, including future stages of Meaningful Use, quality initiatives, PQRS and medical home recognition, on a fee-for-service basis.
“We believe that PCMH improves patient outcomes and that’s why we’re excited about helping practices achieve NCQA PCMH Recognition. We will continue to expand our services in this area throughout 2015,” said CORHIO REC Director, Kelly Procopio.
RECs support EHR optimization, clinical workflow redesign and practice transformation by:
- Providing on-the-ground assistance to large and small practices and rural hospitals.
- Enhancing coordination of care among providers.
- Delivering ongoing support to practices as they continue to transform.
- Providing consultative and technical assistance.
- Assisting with documentation audit and ISS Survey Tool submission.
Many RECs have elected to become NCQA PCMH Partners in Quality, offering limited no-cost assistance to practices seeking NCQA PCMH Recognition. Here is a list of RECs offering free PCMH assistance.
* As defined by the HITECH Act, PPCPs are primary care providers (physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants) in individual and small group practices (fewer than 10 professionals) focused primarily on primary care, public and critical access hospitals, community health and rural health centers and other settings serving predominantly uninsured, under-insured and medically under-served populations.
** ONC and NCQA statistics December 2014.
Patricia Barrett joined NCQA in 2008 as the Vice President for Product Development and Policy. In this role, she is responsible for exploring new product concepts and evolving existing products to meet the needs of a changing health care environment.