Lt. Governor Brown Announces Over 1,000 Maryland Providers Have Signed Up to Adopt Electronic Health Records

State of Maryland Meets and Surpasses REC Program Goal for EHR Adoption

Lt. Governor's Office Press Release 

CATONSVILLE, Md. (June 6, 2011) - Today, Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown and members of Maryland's health care community visited Charlestown Retirement Community to announce that Maryland has met and surpassed its goal of 1,000 primary care providers signing up to adopt electronic health records (EHRs), a major milestone in the State's efforts to spur use of health information technology (HIT). These providers have enrolled to adopt EHRs through Maryland's federally-designated HIT Regional Extension Center (REC), Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP), which provides valuable assistance to primary care providers that will enable them to receive federal and state financial incentives for implementing EHRs.

Governor Martin O'Malley and Lt. Governor Brown have made the establishment of a comprehensive statewide, private-public, and secure health information exchange and widespread adoption of EHRs by the end of 2012 one of their 15 Strategic Goals for the State of Maryland. The Administration has worked closely with CRISP, as well as MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society, and other partners in the health care community to reach out to providers and accelerate adoption of EHRs.

"Reaching this goal for electronic health records adoption is a major achievement in our efforts to make Maryland the healthiest state in the nation," said Lt. Governor Brown. "Implementing health information technology will help reduce costs while improving quality and streamlining care for all Marylanders. By bringing the public and private sectors together and working closely with partners like MedChi to educate providers, Maryland is once again leading the way in health care innovation."

"Maryland's physicians recognize the substantial challenges and costs to adopt EHRs in their practices and appreciate the assistance to meet these challenges as we all strive towards improved patient care," said David Hexter, M.D., President of MedChi.

Maryland has received nearly $27 million in federal funds to assist in the expansion of HIT use.  Maryland's Congressional Delegation has been a leader in advocating for patients and in securing funding for HIT implantation in Maryland through passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the HITECH Act, and the Affordable Care Act.

"Making sure all Americans have access to competent and compassionate healthcare is one of my top priorities," U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski said. "I'm proud to see so many primary care providers signing up to adopt health information technology. This will ensure better patient care and help create a more efficient system that will save millions of dollars and countless lives. Successful adoption of health information technology has tremendous potential to save money, reduce the hassle factor for health care providers and patients, and most importantly save lives. That's why I voted for the stimulus, to put funds in the federal checkbook for grants like the one that supported this program."

CRISP was formed as a not-for-profit collaborative in 2009 by Erickson Living, Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar Health, and the University of Maryland. In 2010, CRISP received a federal grant of $6.4 million to become Maryland's REC and was given a goal of 1,000 providers to enroll in the REC. According to data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, as a percentage of its statewide goal, Maryland leads the nation in enrolling eligible providers for the federally subsidized assistance at 107% percent.

"While we're excited about the opportunity to serve 1,000 primary care providers as they implement EHRs, we know that there are many others across the state who are ready to make the transition from paper record keeping.  We encourage all of them to get in contact with the REC and capitalize on the expertise of a management service organization that meets their needs," said David Horrocks, President of CRISP.  "CRISP is exploring opportunities with the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology to determine if additional federal funds will be made available to subsidize assistance to more of Maryland's clinicians."

Maryland continues to be a leader in developing crucial policies that encourage EHR adoption and the private and secure exchange of electronic health information. The State has designated CRISP as Maryland's Health Information Exchange (HIE), which will allow health care providers to access important clinical information electronically to improve the quality of care and reduce health care costs. Already, all of Maryland's 46 acute care hospitals have signed a letter of intent to connect to the HIE to exchange health information electronically. Additionally, in 2009 Governor O'Malley signed into law a first-in-the-nation bill requiring insurance companies to provide financial incentives to providers that implement EHRs.

"Connecting physicians is a critical part of Maryland's strategy for health information technology," said DHMH Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D., who joined Lt. Governor Brown for the announcement. "Today's announcement complements progress on the state's development of a health information exchange, to allow sharing of key data across institutions to benefit patients."

The Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) has also led a series of efforts to increase EHR adoption. They have developed a state designation program for management service organizations (MSOs), which have emerged as a way to address the challenges associated with provider adoption of EHRs. MSOs offer EHRs hosted remotely in a centralized secure data center, which helps providers reduce cost and maintenance required for the technology, and ease the responsibilities that accompany the storage of electronic data privacy and security. At present, roughly 22 MSOs have received state designation candidacy status and three have become state-designated.

Lt. Governor Brown made the announcement during a visit to the Charlestown Retirement Community in Cantonsville. Charlestown is operated by Erickson Living, a founding member of CRISP and a leading developer and manager of continuing care retirement communities that provide middle-income seniors with an engaging social experience and a focus on health and wellness. Erickson Living has developed innovative solutions that integrate its clinical management software, electronic health records and custom developed portals to deliver information to both medical practitioners and community residents.

As Co-Chair of the Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council and Maryland's Health Quality and Cost Council, Lt. Governor Brown leads the O'Malley-Brown Administration's health care portfolio. Under the leadership of Governor O'Malley and Lt. Governor Brown, Maryland has implemented reforms that have expanded health coverage to over 260,000 Marylanders and put the State in position to maximize the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).