Sunday, September 19, 2010

Establishing Local RECs

The California Health Information Partnership and Service Organization (CaHIPSO) founded in February, is using $32.1 million in funding via ARRA to establish ten Local Extension Centers to deliver services to healthcare providers throughout the state. The goal is to assist 6,187 Priority Primary Care Providers achieve federal meaningful use guidelines by 2012.

Each Local Extension Center will serve either a specific geographic area or a targeted provider segment. For example, the Lumetra Local Extension Center will serve private providers in the greater Bay Area, while the California Health Care Safety Net Institute will serve public hospital systems across the state.

The ten local extension centers will serve the healthcare safety net communities to include primary care providers working in small private physician practices, community health centers and other primary care clinics, ambulatory clinics affiliated with public and rural hospitals, and other practices serving medically underserved patient populations. Although specialists are not eligible to receive subsidized services, they can still join CalHIPSO to access education, receive training, obtain group purchasing discounts for EHR products, and obtain fee-based technical assistance.

CaHIPSO has completed Stage 1 of the two stage process to identify and contract with selected EHR product vendors. As a result of RFPs received, eight vendors have been selected for Stage I in four provider categories. The vendors include AllScripts Professional, eClinicalWorks, GE (Practice and Advanced Systems), Greenway, NextGen, AthenaHealth, McKesson Practice Partner, and E-MDs. The Stage I vendors will participate in the contract negotiation process to be managed by Council Connections who will then act as the groups purchasing partner.

Stage II will provide discounted pricing on products available to CalHIPSO members. The standard contract requirements are being developed in collaboration with other statewide organizations to capture meaningful use requirements. Future capabilities involving health information exchanges will be integrated into the products under contract. It is anticipated that CalHIPSO will release an RFP by late September for Outreach Partners to assist in promoting services to Priority Primary Care Providers.

CalHIPSO will provide services to all of California except for Los Angeles and Orange County. In the case of Los Angeles County, it is is served by L.A. Care Health Plan, and has received a $15.6 million federal grant to establish HITEC-LA, a REC created to help support Los Angeles County healthcare providers purchase and implement Electronic Health Records in a meaningful way.

Recently, L.A. Care awarded $529,000 to help support five community clinics' Health Information Technology projects. This funding is part of L.A. Care’s HIT Initiative to help community clinics purchase and implement EHRs and to help community clinics become meaningful users of EHRs and to help community clinics become meaningful users of EHRs in order to qualify for federal HIT incentives. The HIT projects are expected to take up to 24 months to complete.

To date, L.A. Care Health Plan has funded 27 HIT Initiative projects totaling nearly $3.8 million through the Community Health Investment Fund. For example, L.A. Care will use $210,000 in grants to open a new dental clinic in Lawndale California. With the funding, the South Bay Children’s Health Center’s new clinic will be able to purchase Dentrix, an electronic dental health records system to connect dental offices and to transfer patient information.

CalHIPSO will hold a Town Hall Session on September 21, 2010, for providers and stakeholders. The session will include a team of Meaningful Use experts, including representatives from CMS and Medi-Cal. To participate go to, enter 130264407, then enter 1967603. For questions, call 1-866-551-1530.

CaHIPSO is now actively enrolling providers in the local extension centers and waiving membership fees for Priority Primary Care Providers who enroll before December 31, 2010. For more information, go to