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$10 Million in Startup Funding Approved for Maryland Health Information Exchange

BALTIMORE, Aug 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Against the backdrop of the national health care reform debate, Maryland has taken an important step in fostering the use of interoperable technology to reduce health care costs and improve the quality of care for all Marylanders.

The Health Services Cost Review Commission, the state agency that sets reimbursement rates for hospitals, today unanimously approved up to $10 million in startup funding through hospital reimbursement rate adjustments that will be used over the next two to five years to build a statewide health information exchange. This funding positions Maryland to apply for further funding for its health information exchange through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 later this year.

"Combined with the widespread adoption of electronic health records by hospitals and physicians, health information exchange is one of two critical components to building a truly integrated, 21st-century health care delivery system," said David Horrocks, the president of the Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP), which is the organization chosen by the state to build the health information exchange. "Maryland has positioned itself as a leader in this critical endeavor."

"Americans are paying attention to health care issues now more than ever. And we know we have to create a more efficient system. Patient controlled, privacy protected HIE is an excellent first step," said Dr. Mark Kelemen, CRISP board member, cardiologist, and Chief Medical Informatics Officer of the University of Maryland Medical System.

The funding approval comes several weeks after the Maryland Health Care Commission, the state agency responsible for the development and implementation of the statewide health information exchange, unanimously approved CRISP as the state's formally designated health information exchange. CRISP is a not-for-profit membership corporation advised by a wide range of Maryland stakeholders responsible for the health care of Marylanders. It receives input from patients, hospital systems, physicians, insurance providers, technology providers, privacy advocates, public health officials, and advocates for seniors, the uninsured, and the medically underserved.

Health information exchange allows clinical information to move electronically among health care providers authorized by patients to receive their information. CRISP plans to implement a health information exchange that will assure providers have the right information available at the right time and place of care to improve treatment, prevent errors, and reduce health care costs. A health information exchange will also help gather information to improve disease surveillance, to improve our understanding of what works in the real world, and to shape practice guidelines.

"By linking health systems and hospitals throughout Maryland, doctors will gain the ability to make better decisions by having more information available at the point of care," said Dr. Matt Narrett, CRISP board member, geriatrician, and Chief Medical Officer of Erickson Retirement Communities. "Not only should this lower cost and boost outcomes, it should boost the patient experience as well."

In 2008, the Maryland Health Care Commission issued an award to CRISP to develop a plan for the implementation of a consumer-centric private and secure health information exchange where the patient controls the flow of their information. During the planning phase, CRISP implemented a service to provide real-time, electronic medication histories to patients being treated in the emergency room at Memorial Hospital in Easton. CRISP submitted a comprehensive report to the Maryland Health Care Commission in February 2009. Based on this plan, and the outcome of a competitive bidding process, CRISP received state designation as Maryland's health information exchange.

Today's announcement is the culmination of a number of years of planning and collaboration among a range of private health care institutions and state officials. Three years ago, executives from Erickson Retirement Communities and the state's three largest hospital systems -- Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar Health, and the University of Maryland -- began meeting informally to discuss how to better coordinate care by exchanging health records. These conversations led the group to incorporate CRISP with the purpose of developing a comprehensive, consensus-based plan for health information exchange in Maryland.

SOURCE Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients
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