“I think the more that these groups leverage existing organizations
and resources, the more successful they’re going to be. Trying to
do this in a vacuum is just not going to be successful.”
—Jennifer Covich Bordenick
struggling to keep up with the demand for implementations. As
EHRs begin to catch waves, resources are thin not only with the
vendors, but also respectively with the RECs.”
A Little Help from Friends
Just getting their names and services out to providers has been
a challenge. As with any start-up, marketing can be difficult.
Many providers don’t realize what the RECs can do for them and
how heavily discounted their services are.
A survey conducted by eHI shows that over the last year more
RECs have been reaching out to local and state medical societies and other private and federal healthcare organizations in
order to spread word of their services.
“I think the more that these groups leverage existing organi-
zations and resources, the more successful they’re going to be,”
Bordenick says. “Trying to do this in a vacuum is just not going
to be successful.”
Vendors have also been vital partners for the RECs. Some
RECs offer providers a preferred vendor list, having worked with
those vendors to connect to past and current clients in order
to offer their services. McKesson has worked with RECs across
the country to both educate REC staff on their products as well
as introduce RECs to eligible clients, Bush says. McKesson has
created promotional mailers, e-mail campaigns, and even user
groups to jointly promote EHR adoption and the REC’s services.
“I think there was a certain hesitancy from providers very ear-
ly on, because I don’t think there was proper education before
the launch of the [REC] program,” Bush says. “That is one of the
challenges they really faced. They had to first educate providers
on who they were.”
The partnership between RECs and vendors is mutually ben-
eficial. RECs get introduced to clients, and providers hesitant to
work only with a vendor now have a government-funded neu-
tral party helping them plan and manage their implementation.
Since experienced health IT staff are in such demand, RECs
and vendors can share resources and fill each other’s service
gaps in order to handle the influx of implementations.
Not all RECs have had problems. Some have moved past early
challenges and are helping providers meet meaningful use.
In September the Telligen Health Information Technology
REC based in Iowa was just 100 physicians shy of its goal to reg-
ister 1,200 participants, and it expected to meet its target by the
end of the year. In total, the Telligen REC has recruited nearly
70 percent of Iowa’s independent practices to take part in the
program since launching in spring 2010, a big accomplishment,
notes Sarah Cottington, MHA, RHIT, CPHQ, the REC’s quality
Helping out at Cass County Health System
While small providers are key targets of the REC mission, rural and critical access hospitals are also eligible for their help.
More than 800 critical access and rural hospitals with 50 beds
or fewer had enrolled in a REC program as of September, according to ONC. Iowa’s Telligen REC was second in the nation,
behind Kansas, in working with hospitals, signing up more than
One of those is Cass County Health System, a small physician
group and critical access hospital based in Atlantic, Iowa, that
has used the Telligen REC for both its physician offices and hospital since 2010.
The affordability of the REC, its connection to Iowa Medicaid,
and its detailed offerings initially attracted the health system to
the program, according to Steve Stark, MHA, the assistant ad-