CMS to Give Private Sector Access to Medicare Program Data

CMS to Give Private Sector Access to Medicare Program Data


The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) has announced that it will soon give the private sector access to troves of Medicare data.

The move marks a major change from CMS' longtime policy of barring private-sector researchers from using CMS data for commercial reasons.

The agency’s state reason for the change in policy is “the decision to open up the data to the private sector aims to "shak[e] up health care innovation and se[t] a new standard for data transparency" Further, the policy change aims to spur the development of new technologies, such as predictive modeling tools (Healthcare IT News, 6/2).

Under the new policy, set to take effect in September, data will be accessible through CMS' Virtual Research Data Center, which includes Medicare fee-for-service claims data.

Researchers will be vetted before they are given access.

According to Health Data Management, researchers will be able to analyze the data in a "secure CMS environment." Specifically, CMS will bar researchers from removing patient-level information from the database. Instead, they will be able to download aggregated, privacy-protected reports.

While the data will be de-identified to protect patient identities, health care providers will be identifiable, according to CMS.

CPMA strongly encourages podiatric physicians to take the time to ensure that the data being reported to CMS is accurate and complete. The California Podiatric Medical Association will continue to advocate for this data to be handled in a way that ensures minimal burden to physicians while presenting an accurate picture of the cost and quality of a physician’s practice. CPMA will provide updates on this new data release program as details continue to emerge.

(Source; 6/3/2015)