For one thing, the RECs did not suddenly snap to life in Year One of the program. "They spent the first year letting contracts," says Bobby Gladd, author of the independently-published HHS Regional Extension Center Blog. "The second year was going out and recruiting. They've really only done boots-on-the-ground for two years, and the phrase was 'one and done'" meaning, just enough time and resources to help providers implement Year 1 of meaningful use Stage 1.
For those providers who attested early, say in 2011, had collected 70 percent of the money they were eligible to obtain through the Meaningful Use incentive program, by the end of that milestone, Gladd says.
A Long and Rocky Trail
Yet, that still left Year Two of Stage 1; and all the challenges of implementing Meaningful Use Stage 2, with all its disruptive changes to healthcare's workflows in order to effectively implement such objectives as coordination of care, patient engagement and health information exchange.
Without the help of the RECs, small and rural providers would be even more dependent on pricey consultants or EHR software vendors who might see such an opportunity as a sure way to lock in and lock up providers in their technology.