The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 introduced the concept of Regional Extension Centers (RECs) into the healthcare lexicon. These regional organizations were created to help eligible providers achieve meaningful use.
Since funding for RECs from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) ends at the close of 2014, one might expect most of these organizations to begin winding down, but respondents to the 2014 HIMSS Regional Extension Center Survey indicated they will continue to do business. Results show:
- 85 percent of respondents indicated they did not expect to close their doors;
- 28 percent of the 36 executive respondents reported their funding ran out before the end of February 2014;
- About three-quarters (72 percent) had applied for a no-cost extension of their ONC funding;
- Nearly half are creating strategic partnerships with other organizations in their service area; and
- Almost half reported that they have received state funding to maintain operations.
The survey was conducted over the past December and January and included 39 respondents representing 37 REC organizations. Almost half of the respondents (46 percent) said they were President/Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director of the REC with another 13 percent of respondents noted they were the REC Director. Other respondent titles included Director of IT/IS, VP of IT/IS, Manager of IT/IS, Chief Information Officer or staff-level IT/IS. In addition, respondents are from 35 states with at least one respondent from all nine US census regions.
“According to our results, the survey respondents understand the need for and value of collaborative efforts with other RECS and organizations to support and be part of the services they offer,” says Lisa Gallagher, vice president, technology solutions, HIMSS. Gallagher explained that 92 percent of the respondents indicated they are focused on financial sustainability for their REC, with various funding options and educational support from ONC/CMS cited to help maintain the services offered. “The survey respondents also offer a positive outlook for their REC as they continue focus on future endeavors.”