Niall Brennan: CMS to release new data sets every year

Federal officials are releasing more data than ever before, an essential step forward as the healthcare industry moves to a model based on value of care and not volume, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Chief Data Officer Niall Brennan tells NPR.

He says he expects the data sets--featuring information on subjects like Medicare spending, hospital discharges, drug prescribing and skilled nursing facilities--to be released every year. CMS is "creating a good track record of consistency around releases," he says.

However, the data will continue to be a couple years old because of the amount of time and resources it takes to make the information ready to be released, as well as the need to make sure the data is completely accurate, he says.

In the next year or so, CMS also may release data on Medicare Advantage, especially now that the agency has more detailed granular data from those plans and is in the process of analyzing the information, Brennan tells NPR. He adds that CMS is changing the data submissions process for the state Medicaid program, though the agency is "not as far ahead" with that as Medicare Advantage.

Last week CMS released updated Medicare program data that allows for comparisons of physicians. In an announcement Thursday, the agency said it would post the third annual release of the Physician and Other Supplier Utilization and Payment data that contains summarized information on Part B services and procedures provided to Medicare patients by physicians and other healthcare providers.

While Brennan tells NPR he doesn't want to guess at what other data may be released in the future, he does say that CMS' Medicare provider data releases "now cover more than 85 percent of Medicare fee-for-service spending."

"I would certainly hope to continue to make inroads into that number and push it even higher over the rest of 2016," he adds.

Brennan also spoke at today's Health Datapalooza conference in the District of Columbia. Stayed tuned for FierceHealthIT's full coverage of the event throughout the week.

To learn more:
- here's the NPR article