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The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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DHMH Press Releases :



February 17

National Health IT Leaders on Hand as Maryland Becomes First State to Reach High Level of Connectivity

SILVER SPRING, Md. (February 17, 2012)- Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown was joined today by Health and Human Services National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Dr. Farzad Mostashari, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, medical providers and other state and federal health officials at Holy Cross Hospital to announce that all of Maryland's acute care hospitals are now connected to the Maryland Health Information Exchange (HIE), a statewide system that enables instant and secure sharing of health information among approved doctors' offices, hospitals, and other health organizations. Maryland is the first state in the nation to reach this high level of connectivity, which will allow for major advances in clinical care.

All 46 acute care hospitals across the state, and two specialty hospitals, are now sharing "encounter" level data, which means that when any patient in the state is admitted, discharged or transferred from a hospital, that event is shared with the exchange in real-time. This information can be shared with doctors caring for patients across the state and made available to a patient's primary care doctor. In addition to investing $10 million in State funds, Maryland has received $10.9 million in Federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the HIE.

"Maryland's Health Information Exchange will help ensure that providers have the right information about the right patient at the right time so we can reduce costs and improve care for all Marylanders," said Lt. Governor Brown. "Governor O'Malley and I have made becoming a national leader in the implementation of health information technology one of our administration's fifteen strategic policy goals, and this remarkable milestone demonstrates our commitment to moving aggressively to adopt health IT throughout the State."

"We are in the 21st Century and the sharing of health information is critical to good patient care," said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, who was scheduled to attend the event but was called away for votes on Capitol Hill. "The technology is available and the Health Information Exchange will ensure that the majority of Maryland doctors and hospitals have the most up-to-date information about their patients, particularly in life-threatening situations."

"I would like to congratulate Maryland and CRISP for achieving this significant milestone," said Dr. Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. "Using this critical infrastructure you will save lives in emergency rooms, improve care coordination when patients leave the hospital and track costly readmissions. You are laying the foundation for new payment and delivery models that will improve health and health care and make the health care system more efficient."

In addition to encounter-level data, many hospitals are also now sharing other kinds of clinical data, such as lab reports, radiology reports, and transcribed reports and consult notes.

"A robust, successful statewide information exchange is a critical component of Maryland's strategy for improving health outcomes," said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of DHMH. "Patients across Maryland will benefit from improved care as a result the expanded use of this critical tool."

Today's development is the latest step in the health IT transformation occurring in Maryland. Since late 2010, nearly 1,500 doctors have moved forward with electronic health records through CRISP's Regional Extension Center Program. Over 50 eligible providers have received Meaningful Use Incentive payments through the CMS Electronic Health Record incentive program. Eighty one percent of Maryland hospitals have robust electronic health records systems. These systems allow clinicians to have better access to data, spot important clinical trends, and avoid medical errors. Maryland's progress has been overseen by the Maryland Health Care Commission and the Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP), a non-profit group which runs the Maryland Health Information Exchange.

"The broad connectivity is a credit to the hard work of our hospital partners here in Maryland. It provides a good foundation for the valuable services clinicians will use as they care for patients. I'd like to mention that support from state Government has been instrumental in getting to 100 percent. The Governor and Lt. Governor put urgency behind the effort," said David Horrocks, President of CRISP.

Today's milestone was announced at an event at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, one of the earliest hospitals to connect to the Exchange and one of the state's leaders in accessing information through the Health Information Exchange. The Lt. Governor was led on a tour of the emergency department at Holy Cross and received a demonstration of how the hospital utilizes the Health Information Exchange.

"We appreciate the choice of Holy Cross Hospital by the State of Maryland for this event and, as a CRISP 'first adopter,' we believe that it is helping us deliver high quality, safe and efficient health care for the residents of Maryland," said Kevin J. Sexton, President and CEO of Holy Cross Hospital. "Our physicians now use the health information exchange as part of routine care and can point to numerous examples where it has been proven to be an essential tool in improving the quality of care."

Lt. Governor Brown leads the O'Malley-Brown Administration's efforts to reduce costs, expand access, and improve the quality of health 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 over 310,000 Marylanders and put the State in position to maximize the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).



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