Initiative Focuses on Improving Transparency and Access to CMS Data

A new data and information initiative, a key tool in the evolution from a fee-for-service based payer to a value-based purchaser of care, was announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on June 5. The newly created Office of Information Products and Data Analytics (OIPDA) will administer the data and information initiative and will oversee CMS’ comprehensive portfolio of data and information. Under OIPDA, the development, management, use, and dissemination of data and information resources will become one of CMS’s core functions.

OIPDA will focus on creating new and innovative mechanisms, such as virtual data centers that allow data users remote and secure access to the data, to improve appropriate access to beneficiary identifiable data for research and analysis, while simultaneously increasing data security. New data and information products under the initiative include: 

Medicare Geographic Variation Trend Data: This unique data set leverages almost five billion Medicare claims over a four-year period (2007-2010) into an easy-to-use data resource at the state and Hospital Referral Region (HRR) levels and includes numerous variables, such as demographics, spending, utilization and quality of care.  Users with varying levels of experience with Medicare data will be able to quickly understand and adapt the data to specific projects and assess and compare their state’s or HRR’s Medicare performance against other areas or the national average.  The data is on the Institute of Medicine website and will be available in the Health Indicators Warehouse by mid-summer 2012.   

Medicare Enrollment Dashboard: The online dashboard provides comprehensive statistics on Medicare enrollment (Parts A, B, and D and Medicare Advantage), including detailed information on enrollment patterns at the national and state level for recent years and historical trend data beginning in 1966.  

Medicare & Medicaid Research Review (MMRR): A new peer-reviewed online journal supports the dissemination of high-quality and relevant research to a wide audience of Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program stakeholders. MMRR will accept manuscripts involving health care coverage, quality and access to care for beneficiaries, and payment for health services and will publish CMS Data Briefs, summarizing complex statistical topics in easily understandable language.

CMS Data Navigator: This web-based search tool rapidly connects researchers, policy makers, and the general public to the CMS data resources. The Navigator will significantly improve the transparency of CMS data, allowing users to easily locate CMS data that is currently located in multiple locations on the CMS website. Search results will include publicly available data files, statistics, reports, fact sheets, and interactive tools.  The Data Navigator is scheduled to be in operation by mid-summer 2012 and will be located on the website. 

In addition, OIPDA will assume responsibility for many current CMS data functions, including

(1) management of the Chronic Condition Warehouse (CCW), which is designed to support multiple analytic functions and includes patient-centric data files linked by a unique beneficiary identifier across the continuum of care from 1999 to present day;

(2) administration and production of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS), which provides stable estimates and information on the Medicare population;

(3) management of the Medicaid Analytic Extract (MAX), which is designed to summarize Medicaid data from the Medicaid Statistical Information System (MSIS);

(4) oversight of the Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC), which provides training and technical assistance for external users requesting CMS data;

(5) oversight of the Medicare Data Sharing for Performance Measurement Program, which provides extracts of all Medicare claims data to qualified entities who then combine the Medicare data with claims data from other payers to create comprehensive, actionable quality assessments for health care providers;

(6) publication of aggregated Medicare demographic, spending, utilization, and quality information at the HRR level; and

(7) oversight of the Medicare “Blue Button” initiative that permits beneficiaries to easily download their Medicare claims history. 

Other CMS components will continue to collect, store, and analyze data for their specific business needs, however, OIPDA will be responsible for ensuring that the CMS enterprise maximizes its data resources, transforming the agency into a data driven organization.