Skip to content Skip to navigation

CMS Launches New Data Sharing Tool

November 13, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced the launch of a new data sharing tool to help researchers virtually access and analyze CMS’ store of healthcare data.  

The tool—the CMS Virtual Research Data Center (VRDC)—was unveiled on November 12 at the White House event “Data to Knowledge to Action: Building New Partnerships” as part of President Obama's Big Data Research and Development Initiative.

Researchers using the VRDC will access CMS data from their own workstations and will be able to perform analyses and manipulate data within the VRDC.  Historically, CMS has filled researchers’ data requests by preparing and shipping encrypted data files.  However, given the rapidly-growing demand for timelier Medicare and Medicaid data, the agency needs a less resource-intensive means of responding to data requests from researchers.  The VRDC will help CMS meet these demands while also ensuring data privacy and security and reducing the cost of data access for most users, according to CMS officials.

Using the VRDC, researchers will be able to access Medicare data at a significantly lower cost. Physical delivery of a large sample of Medicare Parts A, B, and D data can cost more than $100,000 for just one year of data.  In contrast, using the VRDC, a single researcher conducting one project over the course of the year can access as much Medicare data as he or she needs for approximately $40,000, CMS officials say.

Additionally, researchers will not need to maintain expensive data infrastructures of their own because they will access the data in a CMS environment by means of a secure virtual desktop.  Due to the time-consuming nature of physical data delivery, CMS generally only has shipped data to researchers on an annual basis in the past.  However, researchers using the VRDC now will be able to refresh their data analyses routinely.

The VRDC also offers greater security for CMS to share data with researchers.  The protection of beneficiary privacy continues to be a priority for CMS when sharing data.  Under the VRDC model, sensitive individually-identifiable information about beneficiaries remains in the CMS data environment, which helps safeguard against breaches or unauthorized uses of the data, say officials.

We’re acutely aware of the huge potential that CMS data holds for creating a more efficient, higher quality health care system, and researchers play a large part in this transformation,” CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement.  “By providing researchers with secure, timely, and affordable access to CMS data, the agency is making it easier to do the important research that will lay the foundation for better quality and lower costs in the healthcare system.”

 

Health IT Summit Series - Focus: CYBER-SECURITY

Get the latest information on Cyber-Security, and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day, intimate event bringing together C-level, physician, practice management and IT decision makers for strategy discussions, knowledge exchange, and one-on-one meetings.

Boston, June 23-24   |   Denver, July 12-13
Topics

News

House Ways and Means Committee Advances Bill to Provide Regulatory Relief for Docs

May 26, 2016
The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means has passed a bill that among other provisions, would provide relief to hospital outpatient departments as well as consider patients’ socioeconomic status before penalizing hospitals in the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program.

Health IT Leaders Address Cybersecurity Responsibilities at HHS during Congressional Hearing

May 25, 2016
During a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing, healthcare IT leaders and security experts testified in support of proposed legislation to elevate and empower the CISO at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Study: Automated, Real-Time Surveillance Significantly Reduced Sepsis Mortality

May 25, 2016
Automated surveillance and real-time analysis led to a significant reduction in sepsis mortality at Alabama’s Huntsville Hospital, according to research recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).

Report: Bill to Fight Zika Could Strip HHS of MACRA Funds

May 25, 2016
With a House bill providing money to fight the Zika virus pending, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) may be stripped of funds that it was planning to use for Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) information technology provisions, according to a Morning Consult report.

Healthcare Organizations Push to Look at New Data Sources to Assess Telemedicine in Medicare

May 24, 2016
Several healthcare organizations have sent a letter to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) regarding the use of alternative data sources for cost estimates and analyses of telemedicine utilization in the Medicare program.

Study: Sharing Visit Notes with Patients Improves Patient Satisfaction, Trust and Safety

May 24, 2016
Improving transparency between physicians and their patients by allowing patients to view their visit notes in their health records can improve patient satisfaction, trust and safety, according to a recently published study.

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Awards $3M to Regional Telemedicine Programs

May 24, 2016
Baltimore-based CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield plans to award nearly $3 million to ten healthcare organizations to help develop or expand existing regional telemedicine initiatives.

Intermountain Launches New Telehealth Service

May 24, 2016
Intermountain Healthcare has launched a new telehealth service that connects patients in Idaho and Utah with the health system’s providers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through video and audio conferencing on the web.

Kansas Heart Hospital Hit With Ransomware; Hackers Do Not Unlock Files After Receiving Ransom Payment

May 23, 2016
Wichita, Kan.-based Kansas Heart Hospital was hit with a ransomware attack last Wednesday, but after the hospital paid an undisclosed ransom, the hackers demanded more, according to local news reports.

Intermountain Healthcare Names New CEO

May 23, 2016
Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare has appointed A. Marc Harrison, M.D., as its new president and CEO to take the helm when current CEO Charles Sorenson, M.D., retires in October.

Study: Hospitals Making Significant Investments in Smartphone-Based Communications

May 20, 2016
Sixty-three percent of hospitals and health systems have deployed or plan to deploy a mobile communications platform supporting more than 500 smartphones in the next year, according to a new survey from Spyglass Consulting Group.

UConn Health Appoints Dirk Stanley, M.D., as First CMIO to Oversee EMR Implementation Project

May 20, 2016
The University of Connecticut Health Center (UConn Health), based in Farmington, Conn., has announced the appointment of Dirk Stanley, M.D., as its first Chief Medical Information Officer.

Potential Data Breach at Children’s National Health System Due to Vendor Misconfiguration

May 20, 2016
Children’s National Health System, based in Washington, D.C., has issued a notice about a potential data breach after a third-party vendor inadvertently misconfigured a file site that enabled patient information to be accessed online.

CHIME, AEHIS, Offer Suggestions to Lawmakers for Improved Cybersecurity

May 20, 2016
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the Association for Executives in Healthcare Information Security (AEHIS) have written a statement to lawmakers offering suggestions for how to bolster healthcare cybersecurity.

MUSC Health Invests $36M in Patient Monitoring Technology Partnership

May 20, 2016
Charleston-based Medical University of South Carolina Health (MUSC Health) announced an 8-year, $36 million strategic partnership with Philips to implement integrated patient monitoring technologies.

Pages