New RECs Complete Health IT Support System

Two new regional extension centers were announced September 28 by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which stated the additions now mean every region of the country is covered by the health IT assistance program.

The final two-year REC awards were given to CalOptima Foundation ($4.7 million) to cover Orange County, CA, and the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative ($5.1 million) to cover the state of New Hampshire, according to an ONC press release.

The national system of 62 RECs is charged with helping physicians, clinics, and hospitals transition from paper-based medical records to electronic health records. The REC program was created in 2009 through the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which allocated $677 million to support the nationwide REC system.

Each REC is responsible for a specific geographic area and offers eligible providers and hospitals assistance in selecting, implementing, and using electronic health record systems.

In addition to the new awards, it was announced that two Florida REC organizations will expand their coverage areas. Community Health Centers Alliances will cover additional areas in Glades and Hendry Counties, and Health Choice Network of Florida will cover additional areas in Indian River, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Martina, and Okeechobee counties.

“The selection of these final awardees means that Regional Extension Centers are now in place in every region of our country to help health providers make the switch from paper-based medical practice to electronic health records,” said ONC head David Blumenthal, quoted in the press release. “For primary care physicians and smaller hospitals in particular, the RECs will be an important resource to help meet the challenges of adopting EHRs and using them to deliver better care.”

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