Maryland to create health data exchange

By Bernie Monegain
09:24 AM

A group of Maryland healthcare institutions, including Erickson Retirement Communities, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, MedStar Health and the University of Maryland Medical System, has submitted its plan for a statewide health information exchange. 

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 the plan to the Maryland Health Care Commission and Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission, which funded the initiative, as well as 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 CIO at MedStar Health.
 
The CRISP proposal to build a secure, standards-based platform for exchanging health information puts patients at its center, Szenczy said. Patients will enjoy a high degree of flexibility and control over how and when to share their personal health information, while providers – such as physicians' practices and hospitals – will have 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," or 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 group noted.
 
"The collective effort of the CRISP participants reflects the collaboration that can be achieved by Maryland's healthcare community to address the possibilities of a state-wide health information exchange," said Jon Burns, senior vice president and CIO of the University of Maryland Medical System.
 
Burns said widespread healthcare IT adoption and interconnectivity, incremental improvements in care quality and cost offer the prospect of transforming the American healthcare system. Spending on healthcare currently amounts to approximately 16 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, according to the Department of Health and 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 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. 
 

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