By Ramona du Houx

August 25, 2010

Maine has won approval from the Federal government for the full use of its grant of nearly $6.6 million to expand and coordinate health information technology throughout the State.

Maine is only the sixth state in the country to have its implementation plan approved by the Office of the National Coordinator, the office of the federal Department of Health and Human Services that spearheads coordination of advancement of health information technology across the country.

“This approval reflects Maine’s leadership in developing strategies to advance electronic medical records and, through the nonprofit Health InfoNet, assure that such information can be readily available all across the state whenever and wherever a patient and her provider needs access to it,” said Governor Baldacci. “Electronic exchange of information speeds access to care, avoids unnecessary, costly repeat tests and helps prevent medical mistakes.”

In March, the federal government announced that Maine qualified for nearly $6.6 million over four years in Recovery Act funds for expanding its plan to expand health information technology. A small portion of funds were available immediately, with the remaining funds contingent on the approval from the federal Office of the National Coordinator.

Also in March, the federal government awarded $4.7 million in Recovery Act funds to HealthInfoNet, the State’s designated health information exchange. Those funds provide support for health care providers who adopt health information technology in their practice.

Maine has been in the forefront of increasing quality and efficiency in health care delivery. In April, the Governor created the Office of the State Coordinator for Health Information Technology by Executive Order. The Order also established a Health Information Steering Committee that will advise the Coordinator.