BALTIMORE, Md. (May 8, 2013) – Today, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown and the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC), in collaboration with the Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP), the state-designated health information exchange (HIE), announced $517,000 in grant funding for four independent nursing homes around Maryland. The funds, distributed through MHCC’s competitive Challenge Grant program, will be used to facilitate the adoption and use of health information technology (health IT) among independent nursing homes to support improved coordinated care between hospitals and nursing home facilities.

“We continue to invest in expanding health IT in our state because it is a critical tool in our efforts to help make sure providers have the right information about the right patient at the right time, which will reduce costs and save lives,” said Lt. Governor Brown. "With today's announcement, Maryland continues to lead the way by ensuring that our nursing homes are working in conjunction with local hospitals to deliver the best care possible to our seniors while reducing preventable errors and hospital admissions."

"I believe that 'Honor Thy Father and Mother' is a good commandment to live by and a good policy to govern by," U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski said. "These funds in the federal checkbook are critical to honoring the responsibilities we have to the health and well-being of our seniors. Through better coordination between hospitals and nursing homes, we will ensure our senior population gets the proper care and treatment they deserve to continue leading healthy lives.”

“This grant represents an important commitment to sharing medical information between hospitals and nursing homes, which will help patients receive the best possible care in a timely manner,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. “The federal government has an important role in improving health outcomes and sharing medical technology is one way to improve care and save money by reducing duplicative tests that drive up costs.”

Through MHCC’s Challenge Grant program, nursing homes were invited to apply for funds to advance health IT adoption and use, which may include the purchase, license and/or implementation of an electronic health record (EHR) system for one or more of their facilities, or financial support for other critical clinical information or recordkeeping systems. The funding for the program is part of a $1.6 million federal grant awarded to the MHCC by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act to facilitate care coordination between hospitals and nursing home facilities.

Awardees include Berlin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Worcester County; Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center in Frederick County; King Farm Presbyterian Retirement Community (Ingleside at King Farm) in Montgomery County; and Lions Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care in Allegany County.

“The adoption of health IT when paired with quality and cost initiatives has the potential to accelerate improvements in health care in Maryland,” said Ben Steffen, Executive Director of the MHCC. “Thanks to the commitment from Governor Martin O’Malley, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Secretary of Health Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, and Maryland's Congressional Delegation to expand health IT in Maryland, we are able to provide  technology funding to these nursing homes to better manage care transitions for their patients.”

Today’s announcement is the latest step in the health IT transformation occurring in Maryland, which has been overseen by the Maryland Health Care Commission in coordination with CRISP. As a key component of each project, awardees will use CRISP’s encounter notification service to alert their facilities’ physicians and care coordinators in real-time when one of their patients has an encounter with a Maryland hospital, such as an admission, discharge, or transfer.

“We are pleased to support basic investments in health IT by the State’s independent nursing homes,” said David Horrocks, President of CRISP. “Particularly since nursing homes are not eligible for federal incentives for adopting electronic records, this funding will offer them an opportunity to invest in health IT. We believe that a positive outcome from these grants will encourage a growing number of nursing homes to make use of CRISP’s services.”

In 2012, Lt. Governor Brown and MHCC and CRISP officials announced Maryland as the first state in the nation to have all acute care hospitals connected electronically through the state-based HIE. Since late 2010, nearly 1,500 doctors have moved forward with electronic health records through CRISP’s Regional Extension Center Program. About 4,000 doctors and 42 of the 46 acute care hospitals in Maryland have received Meaningful Use Incentive payments through the CMS Electronic Health Record incentive program. These Systems allow providers to have better access to a patient’s health information, support public health activities, and prevent medical errors. In addition, 41 Maryland hospitals are now submitting meaningful clinical information through CRISP.

For more information about the grant program, awarded facilities, and the Challenge Grant, please visit: http://mhcc.dhmh.maryland.gov/hit/Pages/ltc_funding_announcement.aspx.

Lt. Governor Brown leads the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s efforts to reduce costs, expand access, and improve the quality of care for all Marylanders. Under the leadership of Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown, Maryland has implemented reforms that have expanded health coverage to more than 375,000 Marylanders, half of whom are children, established Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange, and put the State in position to maximize the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Independent analysis by the Hilltop Institute at the University of Maryland Baltimore County has found that implementation of the ACA will benefit the state’s budget by $672 million through 2020, generate more than $3 billion in annual economic activity, cut the number of uninsured in half, and create more than 26,000 jobs.

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About MHCC and CRISP

The MHCC is the State agency responsible for advancing health IT throughout Maryland.  In 2005, MHCC initiated the development of guiding principles for an interoperable and secure statewide health information exchange (HIE).  Since 2007, MHCC has continued to assess privacy and security policies and business practices related to HIEs.  In 2008, MHCC and the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) designated CRISP as the State-Designated HIE.  CRISP is a private, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide safer, timelier, efficient, effective, equitable, patient-centered health care to all Marylanders through health IT.  CRISP consists of representatives from a broad coalition of stakeholders in State government, and the health care and technology sectors.  CRISP is supported by fees from its participants, the HSCRC, and through federal grants.