Maryland plan for getting health IT goals on fast track

Gov. Martin O’Malley outlined a new vision for positioning Maryland as a national leader for health IT, during a roundtable forum of industry leaders and experts, which convened on Tuesday to discuss healthcare reform and innovation in the state.

The forum was led by O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and was made up of stakeholders including medical system presidents, hospital CEOs and state officials.

“Our healthcare sector is projected to grow by more than 20 percent by 2018, when it will employ a projected 264,000 people in our state. There is a clear connection between the health of our fellow citizens, and the health of jobs and our economy,” said O’Malley. “Advancing our vision for health IT will further this progress, and help us advance toward our goals for creating and saving jobs, and improving the quality of care in our state while reigning in costs.”

In 2008, more than 219,000 jobs existed in Maryland’s healthcare field. By 2018, experts predict that figure will grow to nearly 264,000, representing a growth rate of more than 20 percent over a 10 year period. A strong health IT sector in Maryland has the potential to create even more jobs for Maryland’s hardworking families, according to officials.

O’Malley’s plan to continue to strengthen this sector is based on three parts:

1. Creating a statewide network of health information, including the establishment of a safe, secure method for the exchange of health information, putting the interests of patients first.

O’Malley and Brown have set a goal for Maryland to become a national leader in health IT by 2012 by developing a statewide HIE and promoting the adoption of EHRs among providers. By 2012, the administration aims to have universal compliance by all healthcare providers in the state.

“Developing a successful exchange model using electronic health records will enable Maryland to set the foundation for effective implementation of health reform and bring the healthcare industry into the 21st century,” said Governor Brown. “We will continue to work with our partners across Maryland and throughout the region to ensure that we are improving treatment for patients, preventing administrative and medical errors, and reducing healthcare costs through health information technology.”

In order to implement the statewide HIE Brown has been meeting with the Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP) a not-for-profit collaboration among the Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar Health, the University of Maryland Medical Systems and Erickson Retirement Communities, to develop a “citizen-centric” statewide electronic HIE that allows providers to translate and share patient information.

“The governor has been very supportive of health information exchange, and this event reaffirms the momentum for connectivity he has helped to build,” said David Horrocks, President, CRISP. “Because so many healthcare organizations chose to become involved in planning the exchange, Maryland is building from a strong foundation.”

2. Encouraging the adoption of electronic health records, including developing incentives for providers, engaging public schools, and working with Maryland’s business community to take advantage of health IT opportunities.

Maryland is one of only four states selected to participate in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) five-year demonstration project to encourage small- to medium-sized primary care physician practices to use electronic health records.

The Maryland Health Care Commission has developed regulations that mirror the federal incentive program under Medicare and Medicaid for state-regulated private payers. Maryland primary care providers will be eligible to receive up to $15,000 in incentives for the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs starting in 2011. The Commission also plans to develop an outreach and educational program to help increase the adoption of EHRs in Maryland’s public schools as well as to promote health IT opportunities among women and minority-owned businesses.

3. Maximizing federal funding, including investments from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and federal healthcare reform.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $19.2 billion in funding for health IT. The investment in health IT by the O’Malley- Brown administration has enabled the state to be the recipient of several grants for developing HIE and to secure funding for other health IT related initiatives totaling more the $24 million.
State official said Maryland will also apply for all eligible funding to assist with the costs of broad health IT adoption.

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