Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Maryland's HIT Activities

Maryland’s Statewide Health Information Exchange Policy Board recently met to brief members on the status of the state health information exchange and recent legislative activities related to telemedicine. So far, nine hospitals are currently connected to the state designated HIE operated by “Chesapeake Information System for our Patients” referred to as CRISP.

CRISP was formed as a not-for-profit collaborative in 2009 by Erickson Living, Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar Health, and the University of Maryland. CRISP received a federal grant for $8.4 million to become Maryland’s Regional Extension Center (REC) and the goal to obtain 1,000 providers to enroll in the REC was achieved in May.

So far, 46 acute care hospitals have signed a letter of intent to connect to the HIE. Clinical, radiology, lab, and demographic data are now available through the HIE with about 200 physicians in eleven sites consuming data and using the query functionality. CRISP continues to work with practices serving underserved populations to encourage HIE connectivity.

In another practical move to help physicians adopt EHRs, the Maryland Health Care Commission developed a state designation program for Management Service Organizations (MSO). These organizations offer EHRs hosted remotely in a centralized secure data center. This helps providers reduce costs for equipment and helps them deal with the maintenance needed to use the technology, and eases the privacy and security responsibilities that accompany storing of electronic data. At present 22 MSOs have received state designation candidacy status and three have become state-designated.

Legislatively two state House and three Senate bills were introduced during Maryland’s 2011 legislative session. HB 14, SB 744 and SB 208 would have required reimbursement for telemedicine services and HB 16 and SB 406 would have required the formation of a task force to study the use of telemedicine in medically underserved populations and rural areas. The bills did not pass this session but may be included in the Governor’s agenda for session 2012.

To further legislative activities, the Telemedicine Task Force established by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) and the Maryland Health Care Commission through the Health Care Quality and Cost Council (HCQCC) will begin work on issues this summer.

Currently, four workgroups are in place to discuss legislative issues involving clinical providers, and hold further discussions on sustainability, financial models, and regulations. The workgroups plan to make specific recommendations on expanding telemedicine in the state and then send the report to the HCQHCC in January 2012. It is thought that the General Assembly will likely include the recommendations when drafting bills during the 2012 legislative session.