Dr. Amos Cutler is one of the six physicians, two nurse practitioners and a nurse midwife at Myrtle Street Obstetrics & Gynecology in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Five of the six physicians (one is new to the practice) were among the first in the state last year to attest as meaningful users, and the nurse midwife qualified for an EHR incentive payment under Medicaid, Cutler says.
Practitioners there have used an EHR since 2006, but the REC still afforded useful guidance, says Louise West, the group's practice manager.
“We already were doing most of what we needed to do,” she says. “We used the REC to make sure everything was on our EMRs to capture the data in a reportable form to meet meaningful use.”
Cutler says he's unsure whether providers or the government should pay for future REC services, but White is more definite: “If Medicare is going to have some requirements down the road, I do think there is a place for the REC and there is a need for small physicians to have some help from the government.”
Dr. Eugene Heslin is a family practitioner in a five-physician group he started in 1992 as a solo practice in Saugerties, N.Y. Heslin is on his third EHR, but the REC was helpful “getting over some of the speed bumps,” including the workflow changes needed to get to meaningful use, “which we were able to do.”
“If there is a continuation of the program, it would allow us to pick off harder and harder improvements in medicine,” Heslin says. “I think it would be a waste not to have this infrastructure used into the future.”
The Chicago Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center is funded to work with 1,486 providers, targeting those who serve the city's uninsured and medically underserved populations, including all of its federally qualified health centers, says Adam Williams, its outreach manager.
With just under 1,400 REC-eligible providers signed up, the Chicago center is almost fully subscribed, Williams says The organization is meeting other milestones, too, he says, with 717 providers now live on an EHR, 100 having become meaningful users and 198 qualifying for payments under the Medicaid criteria of adopt, implement or upgrade to an EHR.
“All of us are committed; there is a market for our services,” Williams says. “Here's a not-for-profit based in the city that people trust. We have the credibility to move forward and we're starting to see exactly what some of those needs are in the future.”
When the Stage 2 meaningful-use requirements are released (scheduled for this summer), “somebody is going to have to be there and go back to all of these doctors,” Williams says. “We know we'll have repeat customers.”
In neighboring Indiana, the Indiana Health Information Technology Extension Center has a service target of 2,220 providers and is over-enrolled with 2,250, of which about 60% are active EHR users and 140 are meaningful users. The Purdue University-based REC received $540,000 in additional funding to support 42 critical-access hospitals.