New York eHealth Collaborative Reaches REC Enrollment Target

NEW YORK, Dec. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) Regional Extension Center (REC) on Dec. 15 reached its goal of enrolling 5,107 eligible healthcare providers into its program to help them transition from paper-based to electronic medical records. The nation's 4th largest REC in terms of its enrollment goal, NYeC reached its goal two weeks early and is only the 2nd of the nation's largest RECs to do so.

Limited extra spaces remain in the NYeC REC program for eligible providers.

Each state has one or more RECs. New York State has two: NYeC, covering the entire state outside of NYC (including Long Island and Westchester), and NYC REACH, covering the five boroughs.

The federal REC program is designed to support mainly primary care providers and small practices by providing educational and support services to help them adopt health IT and achieve the federally defined "Meaningful Use" of it, which qualifies them for reimbursements. NYeC is currently 2nd in the nation in terms of the number of its REC members who have achieved Meaningful Use, at 7% of its enrollees.

Each REC has the flexibility to design its program. The NYeC REC leveraged existing New York State health IT infrastructure--the result of years of significant investment by the NYS Department of Health and others--by partnering with Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs) and other health IT groups to tailor regional outreach and support. It also ran a series of provider-targeted educational summits around New York--in Albany, Rochester, Buffalo and other cities--to explain the benefits of EHRs to local providers and teach the best ways to transition.

"5,107 was an ambitious number and we realized that. But we were committed to reaching a truly significant percentage of the primary care providers in the state," said Carol Raphael, chair of the NYeC board of directors and president and CEO of Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

"We are thrilled to have reached our goal for enrollees however it's really step one towards our ultimate goal. Now we're looking forward to using the strong relationships we have with our regional partners to move all of our REC providers to Meaningful Use," said Paul Wilder, director of the NYeC REC.

"As a physician in a small practice I can say I greatly appreciate what the NYeC REC has done for us," noted Eugene Heslin, MD, owner of Bridge Street Family Medicine in Saugerties, NY. Dr. Heslin is also on the NYeC board of directors. "I'm excited to say that all five physicians in our practice have just attested to Meaningful Use."

The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) is a not-for-profit organization, working to improve healthcare for all New Yorkers through health information technology (health IT).

Founded in 2006 by healthcare leaders, NYeC receives funding from state and federal grants to serve as the focal point for health IT in the state of New York. NYeC works to develop policies and standards, to assist healthcare providers in making the shift to electronic health records, and to coordinate the creation of a network to connect healthcare providers statewide. The goal of NYeC is that no patient, wherever they may need treatment within the state of New York, is ever without fast, secure, accurate, and accessible information. To learn more, visit www.nyehealth.org .

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