Niall Brennan to serve as new CMS chief data officer

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is taking another step toward improving its data collection and management with the creation of the Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics.

The new office will be led by Niall Brennan, who will become CMS' first chief data officer, according to an announcement. Brennan, who is the acting director of CMS' Offices of Enterprise Management, will be responsible for overseeing improvements in data collection and dissemination.

CMS' announcement comes in the wake of criticism over the agency's data practices from healthcare groups that sent letters to government officials asking that CMS release more data in a more useable form. CMS also faced setbacks with its Open Payments System, with the agency withholding about a third of data when the site system launched and reports of glitches in the system after the launch date. 

The new data office will be tasked with helping the agency better use the data at hand to guide decision-making and create frameworks for accessing and using the data to improve care and reduce costs. The agency said that as it moves from volume- to value-based care, the need to use data to make improvements and provide better access to information will only intensify. 

"It's clear how much data transparency will help the country improve outcomes, control costs and aid consumer decision making," CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Andy Slavitt said in the announcement. "This appointment signals to the industry that there is no turning back from the health care data agenda. Niall Brennan will help make sure CMS leads the way."

In addition, the position of chief data officer is growing. While the role is rare, it is finding its footing in other industries, FierceHealthIT previously reported, which could mean that healthcare may be next.

To learn more:
- read the announcement