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Grant, REC offer EHR help for southern counties
e-Reports, November 22, 2010
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Second in a two-part series
Physician practices in 19 southeastern Indiana counties can enjoy special terms and pricing to adopt an electronic health record (EHR) system and qualify for meaningful use – by working with the Tri-State Regional Extension Center (REC).

Dedicated to helping practices earn incentives for meaningful use of health information technology, the Tri-State REC serves a broad geographic territory surrounding Cincinnati and encompassing 69 counties in southeastern Ohio, northern Kentucky and southern Indiana. The REC is led by HealthBridge, a large Cincinnati health information exchange (HIE) with collaboration from other regional HIEs, including HealthLINC in Bloomington.

Grants from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology support 60 RECs across the country. Funds are doled out to RECs as they enlist priority primary care providers and move them toward achieving meaningful use of EHRs. (See www.cms.gov/EHRIncentiveprograms.)

“We have money to help you,” said David Groves, executive director of the Tri-State REC. “We as an organization cannot spend the grant money without achieving results for physician practices. Our funding will be spent only if you decide to spend it.”

While RECs cannot use federal funds to help specialty practices, Groves suggested those practices contact the REC for a free consultation and quote for REC services.

Preferred vendors
Last month, Tri-State officials named five EHR vendors that will assist them in helping physicians and practices with technology.

While Groves asserts the REC “embraces open choice and free market competition,” Tri-State has pre-negotiated rates with five EHR vendors they believe are well qualified, and REC staff will receive in-depth training on their products.

Following evaluation in categories like capabilities, functionality, usability and pricing, the Tri-State supported vendors are:

  • Allscripts – Professional
  • athenahealth – athenaNet (also an ISMA preferred partner)
  • eClinicalWorks – eCW EHR
  • GE Healthcare – Centricity
  • NextGen Healthcare – NextGen EHR

Tri-State identified products that meet requirements necessary to achieve meaningful use, offer exceptional usability and support high quality patient care. But they are committed to working with any practice or provider, regardless of which certified EHR vendor they choose, said Groves, noting another vendor may not offer rates as favorable as the selected vendors.

The choices and charges
Some products from the preferred vendors require the practice to have a server on site. Other products are Internet-based – and a few can operate with or without an on-site server.

“The day when you were forced to have a server in your practice is over,” Groves said. “If you don’t want a server, you can choose a ‘hosted solution,’” meaning a vendor handles server functions.

If you already use an EHR, Tri-State will help you reach meaningful use at no charge. If you have an older EHR product that cannot be certified to meet meaningful use, you may experience more difficulty getting there.

“Generally, however, there is some form of upgrade available, and these practices will be in a better position than if they had nothing at all; there will be no weeks-long selection process,” Groves noted.

If your practice is paper-based, an agreement with Tri-State will cost you $2,000. Practices in the 19 counties already using an HIE for clinical messaging can sign with Tri-State for $500. Additional costs will be involved for training through the vendor and perhaps support and licensing costs. Some vendors charge a monthly fee or maintenance cost.

Progress toward the goal
The Tri-State REC is now working with about 50 Indiana practices; 392 are enrolled in the three-state area (Ohio, Ky. and Ind.). Several hundred more are in the process of signing on. “Our goal is to have 700 eligible providers by the end of the year,” Groves said, “and we’re on track to do that.” Visit the Tri-State REC website here.  

See the Nov. 8 issue of ISMA Reports for details about the Indiana Health Information Technology Extension Center, which covers the rest of the state, or visit the I-HITEC website.

REC counties in Southern Indiana
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