Medicaid data gets 'near historic' cloud-based update

Cloud connecting to devices
Nuna has collected data on 74 million Medicaid patients, opening a previously untapped resource.

A Silicon Valley startup has taken on the arduous task of collating Medicaid data for millions of patients housed in disparate state-based systems, offering a new and useful data source that could steer healthcare transformation efforts.

Under a government contract, the startup known as Nuna developed cloud-based software that houses data on 74 million Medicaid patients, providing aggregated information used to identify trends among low-income individuals, according to The New York Times.

Acting Director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Andy Slavitt told the newspaper the project was “near historic,” adding that because Medicaid operates on the state level, the CMS has never had an overarching view of spending and outcome trends within the program.

The cloud-based infrastructure allows for real-time monitoring of specific diseases and billing patterns, and will help with the transition toward value-based care. Nuna’s founder, Jini Kim, previously worked on Google’s failed attempt to bring personal health records online, but called her recent project a “love letter to Medicaid” for the program’s assistance in caring for her severely autistic brother.

Nuna plans to expand its partnerships into the private sector, according to the Times, using trends uncovered in the Medicaid database to help employers and health plans reduce healthcare costs and improve quality.

Medicaid enrollment and spending growth slowed during fiscal year 2016, but drug prices and the program’s expansion in many states is expected to lead to greater cost pressure in the coming year.

Experts have urged states and Medicaid managed care organizations to share accurate and timely data with the feds, and although the CMS has opened up pathways to collect Medicare data, broader efforts to analyze Medicaid claims have been more difficult to coordinate.