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CMS is releasing Medicare Advantage encounter data for researchers to analyze

The data provides detailed information about services to beneficiaries enrolled in a MA managed plan.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the first time is releasing Medicare Advantage encounter data by request from the CMS Research Data Assistance Center. 

"Data has the potential to help produce better, more targeted treatments for patients, improving their quality of life while at the same time reducing costs," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

[Also: CMS overhauls meaningful use EHR program, renames it 'Promoting Interoperability']

The MA encounter data, starting from 2015, provides detailed information about services to beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage managed plan. It will give researchers insight into the care delivered under MA plans and will help them improve the Medicare program, CMS said. 

Annual updates are planned. 

Researchers already have access to Medicare claims data for the fee-for-service program, and the release of MA data will provide a fuller picture. Also, next year, CMS plans to release data from Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Medicare Advantage plans are growing as the baby boomer population ages into retirement and insurers and providers look for ways to collaborate on value-based care.

CMS's data-related announcement builds on several ongoing initiatives the Trump Administration launched earlier this year to put patients' health information into their own hands. It follows CMS initiatives released earlier this week for interoperability and transparency.

Called promoting Interoperability, the CMS proposed hospital payment rule issued this week overhauls the former meaningful use EHR program with the requirement that providers give patients access to their electronic health records in a useable format.

In March, CMS launched Blue Button 2.0, a standards-based API that allows Medicare beneficiaries to get their claims data by providing in a universal, secure digital format. 

Also in March, the Trump Administration announced MyHealthEData, a government-wide initiative spearheaded by the White House Office of American Innovation, to help patients access and share their medical data while ensuring their information is secure and private. 

As the latest effort under MyHealthEData, the data driven patient care strategy is based on three cornerstones including putting patients first, making more data available and taking an application programming interface, or API-approach to exchanging data.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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