One of the interesting things funded by the HITECH Act was the creation of the Health Information Technology Program. That program invests in Regional Extension Centers to offer consulting and technical support to help accelerate meaningful use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). All told there are likely going to be 70 (or more) regional centers across the country.
One of the major tasks of a Regional Extension Center is to provide guidance on which products to buy. Unfortunately, most small and medium sized vendors don’t know about this and may be left out of guidance programs so I wanted to make sure that all of you who sell or market healthcare IT products and services know about this HHS program and are devising an appropriate strategy for how you will become known to these centers.
Here is some information from slide 8 of the recent overview given by ONC about what the regional centers are supposed to be doing:
Vendor Selection & Group Purchasing: Help providers select the highest-value option — the option that offers the greatest opportunity to achieve and maintain meaningful use of EHRs and improved quality of care at the most favorable cost of ownership and operation, including both the initial acquisition of the technology, cost of implementation, and ongoing maintenance and predictable needed upgrades over time.
- Each Regional Center will offer unbiased advice on the systems and services best suited to enable the priority primary-care providers to become meaningful users of EHRs. Regional Centers will avoid entering into business arrangements creating an actual or apparent conflict of interest.
- Applicants are required to submit a Conflict of Interest Certification with the vendors that that they’ve identified. If vendors have not yet been identified, applicant can leave the vendor portion of the certification blank for the moment.
The big EMR and EHR players will have good lobbying and communications programs to reach the Regional Extension Centers with ease; the smaller guys need to be worried about being squeezed out. If you’re a local player, work with HIMSS and other organizations to figure out where your regional extension center is or who is applying for the grants. It could mean success or failure for your company.
If you know more about these Regional Extension Centers and can help out the community, please share some advice here.