Why should primary care physicians sign up for REC services? What are the unique selling points and assistance they will receive as compared to other consultant organizations?
These are excellent questions I am hearing from physicians in Texas regarding the four RECs that cover our entire state. The RECs are subsidized by the federal government through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act which appropriated $640 million in REC grant funds to create 62 RECs across the nation, including the four in Texas.
Primary care physicians in Texas should use REC services because they will receive a steep discount for high quality services that are provided through a trustworthy, physician-centric organization that was specifically created to meet the technological needs of physicians in their region.
In Texas the four RECs have collaborated to develop a shared business plan that leverages the federal subsidies to provide onsite technical consulting for a token fee of $300. For this $300 enrollment fee Texas physicians receive over $5,000 in consulting services which include:
- EHR implementation and project management;
- HIT education and training;
- Vendor selection and financial consultation;
- Practice and workflow redesign;
- Privacy and security compliance education;
- Meaningful use analysis, tracking, and monitoring;
- Assistance in meeting meaningful use requirements for CMS incentives;
- Collaboration with state and national health information exchange (HIE);
- Ongoing technical assistance; and
- Opportunities for CME credit hours
In addition to this steeply discounted enrollment fee, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) works closely with the RECs to help ensure that the RECs are physician-centric and focused on meeting physician needs. Physicians hold 50% of the seats on each REC's governing board as a result of the TMA’s early efforts.
Another unique selling point is that the REC technical consultants are specifically focused on, and experienced with, the small physician practice. Other IT consultants naturally give priority to large practices or healthcare systems where they get large amounts of money from a small number of contracts. The REC consultants, on the other hand, only get a small amount of money per contract, but they get a large number of them. This business strategy allows them to become more experienced with and more focused on the small practice. The REC administrative staffs enable this strategy by facilitating the enrollment of a large number of physicians and by using the REC federal grant funds to offer physicians the steep discount.
The four RECs in Texas are: