Engaging Providers in Underserved Areas to Adopt Electronic Health Records

Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Office of Economic Analysis, Evaluation, and Modeling, 200 Independence Ave, SW, Washington, DC 20201. E-mail: .
The American journal of managed care (Impact Factor: 2.26). 03/2013; 19(3):229-34.
Source: PubMed


Objectives: To assess Regional Extension Centers' (RECs') health IT outreach and provider engagement efforts among primary care providers (PCPs) based in underserved areas. Study Design: A retrospective assessment of REC program enrollment. Methods: We computed REC program enrollment rates among PCPs for the entire United States and across census regions and compared enrollment in underserved areas relative to non-underserved areas. Measures of area-level underserved status included rural and health professional shortage area (HPSA) designations. Results: Of the estimated 302,689 ambulatory PCPs practicing in the United States, 120,783 (39.9%) were enrolled in an REC. REC enrollment rates among PCPs were higher in large rural (47.3%) and small rural (56.1%) areas relative to urban (37.9%) areas. REC enrollment rates among PCPs were also higher for single-county HPSAs (51.9%) relative to non-HPSAs (40.0%), geographic HPSAs (41.7%), and population group HPSAs (38.6%). The Northeast region exhibited the highest REC enrollment rates overall and across categories of underserved status relative to all other census regions. Conclusions: The REC program serves as a unique opportunity to address the health information technology needs of PCPs working in underserved areas. Over the course of 2 years, the program has exceeded its goal of enrolling 100,000 priority primary care providers. Provider engagement is the first step in a 3-step process aimed at getting providers to adopt and become meaningful users of electronic health records. Significant work remains for the RECs to meet these objectives, and future research should evaluate the success of the REC program in meeting subsequent milestones.

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