Maryland's Primary Care Providers Are Embracing Electronic Health Records

BALTIMORE, March 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Physicians, nurse practitioners and other primary care providers from Ocean City to Garrett County are making the transition from paper to electronic health records, or EHRs, in order to maximize their share of around $20 billion in federal incentives made available through the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services.  More than half of the slots in a unique program to assist Maryland primary-care providers are now full, the Chesapeake Regional Information System for Our Patients (CRISP) announced today.  

CRISP is offering subsidized technical assistance to 1,000 primary care providers transitioning to EHRs by 2014.  CRISP is a private, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide safer, more timely, efficient, effective, equitable, patient-centered health care to all Marylanders through health information technology.  

"Governor O'Malley and I have made implementing electronic health records one of our 15 strategic goals because health IT will help reduce costs while improving care for Marylanders," said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown, co-chair of Maryland's Health Care Reform Coordinating Council.  "Right now, Maryland health care providers have a valuable opportunity to take advantage of federal dollars to transition to electronic health records, but they must act quickly as these programs are available on a first-come, first-served basis and slots are filling up."

A number of resources are available to the primary-care community through Maryland's Regional Extension Center for Health Information Technology (REC), a program administered by CRISP with support from the Maryland Health Care Commission.  More than 500 primary care providers across Maryland have signed up to participate in the REC program, with slots filling fast.  Starting in 2015, providers who chose not to act will face penalties in the form of decreased reimbursement rates.

"Health IT will help improve the quality of care and reduce unnecessary costs," said Maryland Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D.  "Maryland is taking another important step forward."

RECs were created under the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  HITECH provided approximately $2 billion nationally in new programs to provide training and technical assistance and to demonstrate the effectiveness of health information technology in supporting improvement in care.  More than 22,000 primary care providers nationwide have signed on to work with 62 RECs to implement EHRs, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

"Our only mission is to serve the primary-care community in the area of health information technology," said Daniel Wilt, program director of the REC.  "We'll work with any practice in Maryland to help them find the support they need to move from paper to electronic record keeping.  Since the REC program currently has a limited capacity, we encourage practices to contact us today."  

The accelerating rates of adoption in Maryland mirror a national trend.  According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, adoption of basic EHRs among primary care providers increased by nearly 50 percent from 2008 to 2010.  Today, 41 percent of office-based providers say they intend to implement EHRs and qualify for incentives.  Still, those primary care providers who have not yet selected an EHR and begun the transition need to act soon.

"Assisting the primary-care community with the transition to electronic records and achieving meaningful use is critical to providing better, more efficient care for patients across the country," said Mat Kendall, director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's Office of Provider Adoption Support.  "We are encouraged that states like Maryland are making strong progress towards achieving the goals of the regional extension centers program."

To learn more about CRISP and how it is enabling the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology in Maryland, please visit  CRISP offers free consultations to any physician practice considering the transition to EHRs.


CRISP is a private, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide safer, more timely, efficient, effective, equitable, patient-centered health care to all Marylanders through health information technology.  With support from a broad coalition of stakeholders in the state's government, healthcare and technology sectors, CRISP has been designated Maryland's statewide health information exchange by the Maryland Health Care Commission; the HIE is currently being deployed.  CRISP is also serving as the regional extension center for health IT for the state of Maryland; the program's goal is to assist 1,000 Maryland priority primary care providers in becoming meaningful users of HIT by 2012.  CRISP is supported through the state's unique all-payor rate setting system and with federal grant funding.

SOURCE Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients