A lasting legacy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 appears to be Regional Extension Centers. Though ONC funding stops at the end of 2014 for RECs, state-based and regional organizations designed to help eligible providers achieve meaningful use, a new survey indicates that they intend to continue to do business as usual.

The 2014 HIMSS Regional Extension Center Survey finds that 85 percent of respondents do not expect to close their doors, despite the fact that 28 percent of the 36 executive respondents reported their funding ran out before the end of February 2014. About three-quarters (72 percent) have applied for a no-cost extension of their ONC funding. In August 2013, ONC announced the opportunity for a no-cost extension of the remaining funds available through ARRA.

In addition, according to the HIMSS survey results, nearly half of respondents are creating strategic partnerships with other organizations in their service area and almost half reported that they have received state funding to maintain operations.  

Lisa Gallagher, vice president of technology solutions at HIMSS, reports that that 92 percent of the respondents indicated they are focused on financial sustainability for their REC, with various funding options and educational support from ONC/CMS cited to help maintain the services offered.

“According to our results, the survey respondents understand the need for and value of collaborative efforts with other RECS and organizations to support and be part of the services they offer,” says Gallagher. “The survey respondents also offer a positive outlook for their REC as they continue focus on future endeavors."

To date, more than 147,000 providers are currently enrolled with a REC. Of these, more than 124,000 are now live on an EHR and more than 70,000 have demonstrated meaningful use. 

Conducted in December 2013 and January 2014, the HIMSS survey includes 39 respondents representing 37 REC organizations drawn from 35 states with at least one respondent from all nine U.S. census regions. The full report of the survey results can be found here.

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