Under the nation’s new health care reform plan, all Americans must have access to electronic medical records, or e-records, by 2014. Doctors not using e-records will lose a percentage of their Medicare reimbursement fees starting in 2015.
The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health has created the West Texas Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (WTxHITREC) to help physicians and other health care providers across West Texas adopt and use e-records in their practices.
In September, the Andrews County Health Department signed the first official contract with the extension center. In addition, the extension center recently launched its informational website (www.wtxhitrec.org ).
“The West Texas Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center is gaining momentum,” said John Delaney, R.N., BSN, WTxHITREC director. “It’s exciting that the Andrews County Health Department has put its trust in the center to assist them in the journey to an electronic health record. The WTxHITREC is adding staff in anticipation of assisting more than 1,000 priority primary care providers across West Texas to meaningfully use an electronic health record.”
The National Vision for Regional Extension Centers was established by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The office has established a nationwide network of 62 extension centers, each serving a defined geographic area, with the goal of helping 100,000 priority primary care providers adopt and successfully implement health information technology. The extension centers will provide outreach, education and technical assistance to priority primary care providers. Priority primary care providers are clinicians who serve the medically underserved, practice in settings with fewer than 10 providers, or are affiliated with Federally Qualified Health Centers, Critical Access Hospitals or rural hospitals.
Through membership with the extension center, providers will be eligible for services to assist them in attaining meaningful use of a certified e-record, which qualifies them to receive Medicare or Medicaid incentives. However, WTxHITREC will serve as a resource for all providers in the West Texas area, giving assistance to any clinician, hospital or clinic.
To join the WTxHITREC, or for more information, visit www.wtxhitrec.org  or contact Delaney at (806) 743-1338 or firstname.lastname@example.org .