How and Why Was PA REACH Created?
Technology continues to evolve at a lightning speed, and has made its way into almost every facet of our lives. There is no question that health information technology and exchange has the potential to significantly improve patient care and lower health care costs. In 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA – the economic stimulus bill), which allocated a significant amount of funding to be used to encourage providers to implement electronic health records (EHRs) in their practice or facility. This money is being allocated to providers in the form of incentives through Medicare and Medicaid when providers adopt and show that they are meaningfully using an EHR. Also, as part of the ARRA bill, grants were made available to create Regional Extension Centers (RECs). The RECs function similarly to the successful Farmers’ Extension Services that started in the 1930s. The RECs offer health care providers a local resource for technical assistance, guidance, and information on best practices to support and accelerate the meaningful use of EHR systems. Based on the size and population of our great state, Pennsylvania received funding for two RECs to assist our providers. PA REACH East and PA REACH West were established in April 2010 and are both a division of Quality Insights of Pennsylvania.
PA REACH Goals
The main goal of PA REACH is to provide outreach, education, and on-site technical assistance to support 5,000 primary care providers (3,000 by PA REACH East and 2,000 by PA REACH West) to implement and meaningfully use EHRs in their practices. Our focus is to assist smaller practices who are working with limited resources and who would most likely be late adopters of EHR technology. PA REACH is receiving funding from the federal government through HITECH grant awards, which is being used to subsidize the cost of the services provided by PA REACH. For more information about our services, please contact a PA REACH project representative.
What Services Does PA REACH Provide?
PA REACH’s services are not limited to those practices that have not yet adopted an EHR system. For early adopters of this technology, PA REACH can make sure your system has the functionality needed to achieve meaningful use, and will ensure that you are successfully reporting your data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). However, if your practice needs assistance selecting a certified EHR product, we can help you with vendor selection as well. PA REACH will serve as your trusted consultant and will be with you every step of the way, providing assistance with system implementation (if needed), practice workflow redesign, quality and value improvements, all while complying with legal, regulatory, professional and ethical requirements. We can also provide the following services:
- On-site technical assistance with EHR adoption
- Education on selection, implementation and use of an EHR system
- Vendor assistance - group purchasing of EHR systems and technical support to leverage volume discounts
- PA REACH will work with any practice that qualifies, no matter what CERTIFIED vendor they choose to work with - providers are not required to select their EHR vendor from PA REACH's Group Purchasing Options List, as PA REACH is vendor neutral
- Beginning-to-end project management support of EHR implementation
- Access to current information on meaningful use and best practices from around the country through the National Learning Consortium
- Support for practice and workflow redesign to achieve meaningful use of the EHR system
- Assistance in the process to become certified as a meaningful user
How Will PA REACH Help Providers Qualify For Federal Incentives?
The PA REACH team has closely studied the final rule on Stage 1 Meaningful Use, which was announced in July 2010 by the Department of Health and Human Services and The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Our project coordinators will help each practice determine its level of incentive eligibility, and will provide the support, training, and expertise to assist providers to become certified as a meaningful user of the chosen EHR system. Eligible health care providers who install and achieve meaningful use of EHRs will be eligible for incentive payments, or reimbursements, of up to $44,000 from Medicare, or up to $63,750 from Medicaid through the program.
Stage 1 Meaningful Use has three main components:
- The use of a certified EHR system in a meaningful manner (e.g. e-prescribing)
- The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information in order to improve quality of health care
- The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality and other measures
Stage 2 Meaningful Use:
The Department of Health and Human Services has sent to the Federal Register two notices of proposed rulemaking for Stage 2 of the electronic health records meaningful use program. The rule was made available on February 23, 2012 on the Federal Register Public Inspection Desk.
To read the Stage 2 Meaningful Use Final Rule, and to access toolkits, resources, and additional information, please visit the Stage 2 Meaningful Use page on the CMS Web site.
Who Is Eligible For Assistance From PA REACH?
PA REACH can provide assistance to eligible providers who work in practices that plan to implement a certified EHR system, and also those eligible providers who already have a certified EHR system up and running. Health care providers will need to fall into one of the following categories in order to be eligible to contract to work with PA REACH:
Primary Care Providers:
Physician, Nurse Practitioner, or PA specializing in Family Practice, Internal Medicine, OB GYN, or Pediatrics.
Providers demonstrating that they are acting as the primary source of care for a patient will be considered on a case by case basis. Specific to this are Cardiology, Allergy/Immunology, Nephrology, Hematology, Oncology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Rheumatology, Pulmonology, and any Pediatric Subspecialists.