The regional extension center program: helping physicians meaningfully use health information technology

Ann Intern Med. 2010 Nov 16;153(10):666-70. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-153-10-201011160-00011.


Many physicians face financial and organizational barriers that inhibit their adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems. The 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act included provisions to facilitate the transition from paper to electronic records, including Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments to support the adoption and meaningful use of EHR systems. It also created the Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (REC) program to ease the barriers faced by primary care physicians and rural and critical-access hospitals seeking to implement EHRs. The 60 RECs will administer individualized assistance to primary care practices and rural and critical-access hospitals as they implement new EHR systems or upgrade existing ones. In aggregate, the RECs aim to help 100 000 primary care physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners to effectively implement EHR systems and qualify for incentive payments for meaningful use. This article describes the rationale for the REC program and describes how the 60 RECs promote the meaningful use of EHR systems.

MeSH terms

  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Medicaid / organization & administration
  • Medicare / organization & administration
  • Physicians, Primary Care
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • United States