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CMS Launches Data Initiative

June 5, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The third annual “Datapalooza,” an event co-hosted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with the Institute of Medicine (IoM) and other members of the Health Data Consortium, saw the launch of multiple healthcare data initiatives. This includes an initiative from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which announced it will alter its approach to data and analytics through the creation of a new Office of Information Products and Data Analysis.

The data initiative from CMS will aim to help it evolve from a fee-for-service based payer to a “value-based purchaser of care” that links payments to quality and efficiency of care, rather than sheer volume of services. The new office will strive to “make development, management, use, and dissemination of data and information resources a core function of CMS.” Over time, CMS says, the initiative will modernize CMS’ intricate data systems and policies.

A few of the resources available under the initiative already includes Medicare geographic variation trend data, Medicare enrollment dashboard, Medicare & Medicaid research review, and a CMS data navigator. The geographic trends data leverages nearly five billion Medicare claims in an easy-to-use data format that provides key metrics at the state and hospital referral region levels. The data navigator is a web-based search tool that rapidly connects researchers, policy makers, and the general public to the CMS data resources they need. 

In addition, at the Datapalooza, it was announced that data found in the Healthcare.gov Insurance options finder is now available through an application programming interface (API). This means the data is machine readable and downloaded by third party developers. This information can allow users to compare different plans, and it shows important information, such as the percentage of people who applied for coverage and were denied.

Also at the event, the Office for the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced the winners of a competition aimed at creating an easy-to-use, web-based tool that helps patients schedule follow-up appointments after being discharged from a hospital stay. The winner was MyHealthDIRECT, a web-based solution that enables patients and caregivers to search for, book, and confirm appointments and includes reminder and transportation reservation functionality.

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