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CMS Releases New Charge Data, Sebelius Announces

June 3, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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At Health Datapalooza IV, an annual gathering in Washington D.C. that focuses on health data transparency, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released additional data on hospital outpatient charges and Medicare spending and utilization.

In addition, the Office for the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released additional information on the adoption of specific electronic health record (EHR) systems used across the country. The data used from Regional Extension Centers across the country looked at different brands of EHR products used by 146,000 doctors by state, specialty, and each doctor’s stage in meaningful use attestation.

The announcement comes a few weeks after CMS released hospital charge data for the first time ever. Last month, it was the average charges for the 100 most common inpatient procedures. This time, it’s estimates for 30 types of hospital outpatient procedures from hospitals across the country, such as clinic visits, echocardiograms, and endoscopies.

Along with the charge data, CMS released two different data sets at the county level. One is focused on Medicare spending and utilization, and another on Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions. Both, CMS says, will allow researchers understand Medicare spending and service use. In turn, this will allow them to be more innovative in using the data to innovate.

“The administration is committed to making the health system more transparent and harnessing data to empower consumers,” Secretary Sebelius said in a statement.

During her brief speech at Health Datapalooza, the secretary talked of the importance of the event, which has grown from approximately 50 attendees in its first year to more than 2,000 this year. Sebelius gave credit to the different stakeholders in the crowd, who inspire and figure out innovative ways to take open data and formulating it to create applications that address various healthcare problems.

The administration made a number of other announcements including the creation of a national challenge that asks developers to create an app using Medicare data that primary care providers can use to help manage patient care.

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