RECs Successes Reveal 3 Best Meaningful Use Practices

Authorized and funded by the HITECH Act, the country's 62 Regional Extension Centers aim to help small physician practices and small and critical access hospitals adopt health IT and attest to meaningful use.

The RECs have achieved considerable success: Among the 10,034 rural hospitals, critical access hospitals and rural health clinics enrolled with a REC, 82 percent have adopted and are using electronic health records, and 37 percent have attested to meaningful use stage 1.

The RECs' successes reveal three best practices for any provider seeking to attest to meaningful use:

1. Forge strategic partnerships with key community stakeholders and advisers. At the RECs, strategic partnerships provided access to and credibility with providers and increased overall visibility and uptake of health IT.

2. Create technical assistance staffing models that explicitly include staff with both clinical and IT skill sets. Employing technical assistance staff with both clinical and IT backgrounds allowed the RECs to provide the full scope of services that providers needed to achieve meaningful use. Their clinical training and experience also gave the IT advisers more credibility with physicians and nurses.

3. Use a champion to engage and sustain provider involvement in the transition from paper. Using physician champions — a clinician prominent in the provider community who helps shape and lend credibility to the legitimacy of the IT project — helped the RECs meet their recruitment goals quickly. Office champions — staffers committed to guiding the practice through the transition — kept providers organized and engaged throughout the process.

More Articles on Meaningful Use:

How Much Have Hospitals, Health Systems Invested in MU2? 9 Statistics
REC Leader Leaving ONC
The Consequences of Healthcare CIO Overload

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