Most RECs plan to stay open after 2014

Most of the regional extension centers established by the American Recovery and Reimbursement Act have been "extremely successful" and expect to remain operational even after federal funding runs out in 2014, according to a new HIMSS report.

The 2014 HIMSS REC survey collected information from 39 respondents representing 37 of the nation's 62 RECs. Eighty-five percent of them expect to continue despite a lack of funding, and said they were looking for funding elsewhere. Almost three-fourths (72 percent) had applied for a no-cost extension of funding from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT; another 10 percent had yet to decide whether to follow suit and do the same.

Almost half (49 percent) said they had received some state funding, and nearly one-fourth said they were creating strategic partnerships with health information exchanges or other entities to stay afloat.  

More than 147,000 providers currently are enrolled with a REC. Of these, more than 124,000 are live with an electronic health record, and more than 70,000 have demonstrated Meaningful Use, according to the report.

Half of the respondents stated that the federal government should continue to provide the RECs with funding. Many also indicated that the government should provide additional support, such as an online resource center or training.

"The majority of RECs in this study expect to be in operation in the future, providing healthcare organizations with resources and guidance to achieve Meaningful Use Stage 2, helping them navigate privacy and security issues or providing assistance with ACO issues," the report's authors said. "Indeed, these organizations are turning toward alternate means of sustainability."

ONC has been pleased with the RECs' performance, noting that they have "surpassed their goals" in increasing EHR adoption among physicians, rural hospitals, and others despite common challenges, such as provider resistance and "unsavory" vendor practices.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)