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HHS Unveils New Health IT Initiatives

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In the efforts to create a national system of electronic health records, regional extension centers, which will assist healthcare providers in making the digital switch, are the connective tissue, holding everything else together.

Last week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology unveiled five new initiatives to boost the centers’ efforts to implement EHRs nationally through outreach and education.

The initiatives are:

§  An online, interactive community that will house tools and resources for RECs “to obtain strategic health IT support and exchange ideas”

§  An outreach, education and marketing guide for the centers

§  A Meaningful Use Vanguard cohort to showcase and reward healthcare providers who lead the way in terms of health IT adoption

§  Outreach campaigns to help recruit healthcare providers

§  Partnering with EHR vendors to identify best practices

While the list may seem exhaustive, Mat Kendall, director of the Office of Provider Adoption Support, said the initiatives “are only the beginning.”

Writing on the HHS’ Health IT Buzz blog, Kendall said the new initiatives were designed following workshops and seminars on such topics as meaningful use, privacy and security.

“We’ve had the chance to participate in events where leaders from different RECs come together to network and share best practices,” he added. “And we’ve learned about new ways we can support our RECs in their mission to help healthcare providers adopt electronic health records.”

The new REC initiatives come after the Health and Human Services Department finalized its selection of the centers in September. There are now 62 RECs nationwide.

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