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NC Department of Health and Human Services
Health IT
 
 

Regional Extension Center

Background

The NC Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill received a notice of grant award dated February 8th, 2010 to perform the function of the North Carolina Regional Extension Center (NC REC) for health information technology. The award was for $13.6 million dollars over 2 years which will allow NC AHEC to reach at least 3,465 priority primary care physicians and assist with practice assessment, workflow redesign, selection and implementation of electronic health records (EHR) to achieve meaningful use of the technology and improve health outcomes throughout the state of North Carolina. NC AHEC will expand its consulting workforce throughout the nine regions of the state to help practices implement technology and/or use previously existing technology to meet the federal standards of meaningful use to achieve incentive payments from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services between 2011 and 2015.

Currently the nine regional AHECs across the state are preparing to hire 18 professionals with experience in EHR implementation and technical expertise to assist primary care practices across the state. The Cooperative Agreement with the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for health information technology provides payment to the REC upon milestones achieved in the practices. A total of 40 new personnel are planned for the two year period. A training mechanism for these new staff members has been built with assistance from the REC subcontractors at the& Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence (CCME), the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation and the Institute of Public Health. Additionally a website and tracking tool is being engineered by CCME to enable the NC REC to provide tools and resources while tracking the progress of each practice through the necessary steps of readying for, selecting and implementing an EHR.

NC AHEC is currently collecting the names of providers interested in receiving these services and will begin to consult in practices as soon as qualified personnel are hired and trained. For more information, please contact Ann Lefebvre at ann_lefebvre@med.unc.edu.

NC AHEC has worked with the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence, the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation, Community Care of North Carolina and the NC Institute for Public Health to build a detailed training program including over 40 hours of instruction and interactive learning for newly hired personnel within the nine regional AHECs across the state. These new personnel will engage with primary care providers across the state to help them implement and use electronic health records to achieve the incentive payments and improve care for their patients.

Additionally, NC AHEC has developed a plan to identify a preferred EHR vendor list to guide primary care providers across the state in their selection of certified EHR products. This process includes the development of a detailed request for information (RFI) that will be sent to EHR vendors across the country. NC AHEC has also identified a committee of physicians, practice managers and an expert in HIPAA and security to score the responses to this RFI. Those EHR systems that demonstrate a high enough score will be invited to demo their product for the committee to ensure that the product performs to the meaningful use standards. Once the demos have been completed the systems that the committee deem appropriate will be listed on a “preferred vendor list”. At that time, all RFI responses and the scores that they received will be made available to providers across the state to use in their process of selecting EHR systems.

NC AHEC is working closely with the State HIE Board, the Beacon Communities grant at Southern Piedmont Community Care Plan and the Division of Medical Assistance to help ensure that the efforts of the Regional Extension Center are aligned with all HIT initiatives in the state, and we have launched a website to allow practices to apply for these services online at www.ahecqualitysource.com

Contact

Ann Lefebvre

Your local AHEC

For Services

North Carolina AHEC provides individualized, on-site electronic health record (EHR) consulting tailored to your practice’s specific needs at no charge to you.

 

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