Maryland Healthcare Institutions Submit Comprehensive Plan for Digital Health Information Exchange

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 CATONSVILLE, MD (February 24) A group of prominent Maryland healthcare institutions, including Erickson Retirement Communities, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, MedStar Health, and the University of Maryland Medical System announced this week that it has submitted its comprehensive plan for a statewide health information exchange (HIE).  Widespread adoption of health information technology can enable improvements in healthcare quality, prevent medical errors, and reduce healthcare costs by delivering essential information at the point of care.  The plan addresses issues related to governance, privacy and security, technical architecture, hardware and software, implementation costs, and financial sustainability.

 The group, whose members have been meeting as the Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP), presented their plan to the Maryland Health Care Commission and the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission, which funded the initiative.  A copy of the plan was also presented to Gov. Martin O’Malley.

 “In designing this plan, the members of CRISP wanted to ensure that the needs of both providers and patients across all venues of care were well served,” said Catherine Szenczy, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for MedStar Health.

 The CRISP proposal to build a secure, standards-based platform for exchanging health information puts patients at its center.  In the future exchange, patients will enjoy a high degree of flexibility and control over how and when to share their personal health information.  Providers such as physicians’ practices and hospitals will benefit from access to information that was previously unavailable in real-time, helping to reduce unnecessary tests and prevent drug interactions.  CRISP recommends that the statewide HIE pursue an incremental growth strategy, building from individual “use cases”—individual HIE services that have a demonstrated need and demonstrable clinical value to patients and care providers.  In this way, HIE growth is driven by clinical value and fosters near-term progress while planning for long-term success.

 "The collective effort of the CRISP participants reflects the collaboration that can be achieved by Maryland’s health care community to address the possibilities of a state-wide health information exchange," says Jon Burns, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, University of Maryland Medical System.

 Within the context of widespread health IT adoption and interconnectivity, incremental improvements in care quality and cost offer the prospect of transforming the American healthcare system, where spending on healthcare currently amounts to approximately 16 percent of GDP, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ national health expenditure data.

 “With a new national commitment to health IT, now is the right time for Maryland to enable the widespread exchange of health information,” said Stephanie Reel, Vice Provost for Information Technologies at Johns Hopkins University  and Vice President for Information Services for Johns Hopkins Medicine.

 CRISP’s was one of two plans submitted to the Maryland Health Care Commission and the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission.  This summer, based on insights gained from the plans, the state will solicit proposals to build the statewide HIE.  It intends to fund the implementation through its hospital rate-setting mechanism.  

 “Developing an HIE in Maryland is an opportunity that can enable increases in patient safety, improve quality and drive towards meaningful cost savings.  To live up to the promise, it’s important that a wide range of stakeholders, from policymakers to providers to technologists, embrace a collaborative spirit and a long-term vision,” said Scott Afzal, Director of Health Information Systems for Audacious Inquiry and lead project manager for CRISP.  “The CRISP planning process was extremely encouraging—the leadership of hospital systems, government agencies, advocacy groups for consumers and the underserved, and private-sector healthcare organizations set aside some of the underlying competitive forces to develop this plan which, we all believe, will serve Marylanders well as we move into an HIT-enabled future.”  

 In addition to Erickson and the three hospital systems, participants in the CRISP planning process included:

·         Audacious Inquiry

·         Baltimore Medical System

·         CareFirst

·         Community Health Integrated Partnership

·         Dynamed Solutions

·         LifeBridge Health

·         MedChi

·         Northrup Grumman

·         Ober|Kaler

·         Primary Care Coalition

·         The Shepherd’s Clinic

·         St. Joseph Medical Center

·         The Summit Health Institute for Research and Education


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