Maryland moves closer to statewide health information exchange
Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland has asked the Maryland Health Care Commission to accelerate its development efforts for a statewide health information exchange (HIE). O’Malley has requested the commission expedite requests for information to all would-be developers of the HIE.

O’Malley has budgeted $750,000 for the HIE planning effort, which is expected to take most of 2008, said David Sharp, spokesman for the commission.

The governor said the state’s Medicaid program and hospitals should lead by example and implement health information technology. By executive order, without waiting for the legislature, he has established a Health Quality and Cost Council, chaired by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

The council will facilitate the integration of health IT into healthcare systems and will examine whether doctors should get payment incentives for using clinical information technology, Sharp said.

The Maryland General Assembly is currently considering the governor’s healthcare package, which includes a wide-ranging set of proposals to improve access to healthcare and quality of care and contain costs. Over four years, the package would cost $674 million, with less than half of that taken from the state’s general funds.