In order to facilitate the adoption of health information technology (HIT), Wisconsin has one Regional Extension Center (REC) serving physicians within the state. The Wisconsin Health Information Technology Extension Center was created under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act’s Health Information Technology Extension Program. Specifically, the purpose of the Wisconsin Regional Extension Center is to provide education, outreach, and technical assistance necessary to help providers in Wisconsin improve the quality and value of care they furnish by attaining or exceeding meaningful use of electronic health record (EHR) systems.
The first step toward achieving meaningful use is the purchase of certified EHR software for your practice. Choosing the appropriate EHR software can be a daunting and time consuming task due to the sheer number of vendors and complexity of the many options available. The Wisconsin REC can play an important role in guiding physicians through the implementation and use of EHR software they have purchased, and is dedicated to the broader long-term goal of supporting the development of Health Information Exchanges.
Some Regional Extension Centers have also chosen to offer a list of selected EHR vendors (also known as preferred EHR vendors) that have been prequalified or otherwise vetted. In many cases, Regional Extension Center members can receive group purchasing discounts from them. These EHR vendors include a select group of EMR (electronic medical records) companies that underwent a significant qualification and selection process and have demonstrated a commitment to Wisconsin’s health information technology mission. In order to be selected, the electronic health records vendors on this list agreed to a higher base level of functionality and interoperability that will enable practices to achieve meaningful use and best participate in the Wisconsin Health Information Exchange. Additionally, for Wisconsin Regional Extension Center participants, the electronic health records vendors have agreed to discounted pricing and standardized terms and conditions to facilitate adoption quickly and smoothly.