Chicago Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center




Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions - Who is CHITREC

The Chicago Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (CHITREC) is a partnership among Northwestern University, the Alliance of Chicago Community Health Services and more than 40 local and national collaborators focused on HIT adoption and use needs within the city of Chicago. CHITREC is a local service organization, specifically serving the 606xx zip code region in Chicago, and provides a range of services to primary care providers interested in achieving meaningful use of Electronic Health Records (EHR). As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Office of National Coordinator for HIT has provided initial funding for the regional extension center with most of the funds allocated for direct assistance to providers.
Specifically, CHITREC was selected and awarded through an objective review process by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator of HIT (ONC), as the designated organization in Chicago to support primary health care providers on EHR adoption and meaningful use.
CHITREC serves as a direct pipeline to the national program health IT adoption and brings local expertise to support individual primary care practices, critical access hospitals (CAHs), federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), and other providers with necessary technical assistance for successful EHR implementation.
CHITREC leverages its connection to a national collaborative of regional extension centers (RECs) to provide key insights on EHRs and scalable implementation solutions.

ONC (HIT) is the Office of the National Coordinator (for Health Information Technology). It is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services.

CHITREC brings together a range of standard and individualized services and access to resources for HIT implementation.
CHITREC services include:
·     Education and training

·     Meaningful Use gap analysis

·     Needs assessment / RFP development

·     Product evaluation, selection consultation and procurement

·     Workflow analysis and redesign

·     Data conversion, including preload and interface development

·     Patient engagement / education

·     Reporting strategy

·     Clinical decision support content and design

·     Post-implementation assessment and optimization

·     E-prescribing implementation

Services will begin in June 2010, once funding is distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services. In the interim, interested providers and practices are encouraged to contact CHITREC at: [email protected]

The CHITREC serving area addresses more than 2,400 primary care providers in the concentrated 606xx zip code area. The majority of these PCPs care for the under/uninsured and medically underserved in Chicago.

CHITREC is a resource for primary care providers (PCPs) in Chicago (606xx area code). Although we can help any Chicago provider, our focus is on practices of 10 providers or less, or those PCPs who provide care for the uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved. Those PCPs can be eligible for CHITREC direct assistance funding.

General and technical assistance will be provided to all participating practices. A customized roadmap will be developed for each participant based on the results of a readiness assessment that will be completed at the early stages of participation. Participants will receive tailored assistance for achieving meaningful use based on their assessment.

The HIT Regional Extension Centers were established as part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, (Title IV in Division B of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) authorizing financial incentives to Medicare and Medicaid providers' who achieve meaningful use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology and are funded through as award from the Office of the National Coordinator, Department of Health and Human Services.
The purpose of the Regional Extension Centers (REC) is to provide education, outreach, and technical assistance to priority primary care providers in their region to assist them in selecting, successfully implementing, and achieving meaningful use of certified EHR products.

Although CHITREC's mandate and grant authority is to support primary care providers, CHITREC can assist specialists. However, support for specialist will be determined on a case-by-case basis and may entail a CHITREC fee-for-service offering.

No.  CHITREC is vendor neutral.  Although CHITREC delivers various services for providers (from consultation to best practice sharing), CHITREC aims to work collaboratively with both providers and vendors to ensure providers can achieve meaningful use.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), or "the stimulus bill," provides additional Medicaid and Medicare payments to physicians that demonstrate "Meaningful EHR Use" – the foundation of successful EHR implementation.

  • The meaningful use rule is part of a coordinated set of regulations to help create a private and secure 21st-century electronic health information system.
    • 15 core objectives of meaningful use comprise basic functions that enable EHRs to support improved health care. As a start, these tasks include the entry of basic data: patients’ vital signs and demographics, active medications and allergies, up-to-date problem lists of current and active diagnoses, and smoking status. Other core objectives will include using several software applications that begin to realize the true potential of EHRs to improve the safety, quality, and efficiency of care—and to begin extending the benefits of EHRs to patients themselves by providing patients with electronic versions of their health information.
    • In addition to the core elements, practitioners must select from a menu of 10 additional tasks, from which providers can choose any 5 to implement in 2011–2012. This gives providers latitude to pick their own path toward full EHR implementation and meaningful use.
  • Through HITECH, the federal government is committing unprecedented resources to supporting the adoption and use of EHRs. This funding will provide important support to achieve liftoff for the creation of a nationwide system of EHRs. It will make available incentive payments totaling up to $27 billion over 10 years, or as much as $44,000 (through Medicare) and $63,750 (through Medicaid) per clinician.
  • Initial Incentive payments, administered through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, will be made available beginning in January 2011 to eligible providers with EHR systems that focus on: electronic capture of health information in a coded format, use of that information to track key clinical conditions, communicating that information across the care continuum, and reporting clinical quality measures and public health information.

At CHITREC, our number one priority is helping all providers understand and fully take advantage of the window of opportunity to fully realize the benefits of health IT adoption and achieving meaningful use.

  • With our scalable support, we will help you get there efficiently and effectively.
  • Your practice will be geared to achieving the objectives from the very beginning, maximizing payments and minimizing hassle.

There will be a rush for new providers to implement EHRs to take advantage of the incentives because they are time-limited. Vendors will have limited capacity and will start to be overbooked, making CHITREC services all the more valuable as it may ease practice burden while speeding up the implementation process.
Given the fact that most younger providers consider EHRs a necessity in a medical practice, the installment of an EHR system now is an investment in the future value of a medical practice.

  • EHRs require an initial investment of time and money, but providers can save money in the longer run through improved efficiencies, including reductions in the amount of time spent locating paper files, transcribing and spending time on the phone with labs or pharmacies; more accurate coding; and reductions in reporting burden.

Providers around the country are recognizing that, overall, the health care system is rapidly moving toward EHRs.

  • Many hospitals, health plans, and other entities are now supporting Meaningful Use and aligning programs around it.
  • EHRs are an essential component of health care reform related efforts such as Accountable Care Organizations.