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The CMS Data Navigator API

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Last week we told you about the many open data resources available at HHS. The success of these resources depends greatly on how easy they are for developers to use. Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) realized that this key audience was having a hard time using their open data site. So they developed a tool to solve this problem: the CMS Data Navigator.

Screenshot of the CMS Data Navigator. This application is an easy-to-use, menu-driven search tool that makes the data and information resources of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) more easily available.

CMS Data Navigator available at dnav.cms.gov

The CMS Data Navigator is an easy-to-use search tool that helps visitors looking for CMS data find the appropriate data and information resources they are looking for. You can use the tool to search based on CMS programs, such as Medicaid or Medicare, or on specific health care topics or places care is given (like hospitals or nursing homes). The menu-driven navigator displays search results by document type, making it easier to locate specific kinds of information

Launching this week is the next step in the Data Navigator’s evolution, the CMS Data Navigator Application Programming Interface (API). The new API is designed to give websites and applications the ability to take the information in the CMS Data Navigator and integrate it into other applications.

Why Developers Should Use the New API

We want third party developers to use the CMS Data Navigator API for two reasons:

  • First, one of the major tenets of the Digital Government Strategy is that data is the fuel of innovation. At HHS, we believe CMS data is like jet fuel—it is some of the most powerful information we collect, and therefore the most useful for creating new tools to analyze health care. Some of the most sweeping changes in health care right now are powered by CMS data, including state health insurance exchanges, payment reform, and quality measurement.
  • Second, we want developers to use our API because third party applications can get to audiences the government cannot. It is naïve to think that the public is going to go to the source of the data every time they have a question. We don’t expect you to go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) when you want to know the weather forecast; we know you will go to the weather app on your phone–which is based on NOAA’s data. In the same way, we want developers to create tools with our data that improve the lives of Americans every day, whether or not the public knows where the data comes from.

If you’ve had an interest in CMS data in the past but felt the process of finding the data was cumbersome, give the CMS Data Navigator a try.

If you’re a developer, tell us how you think you could use CMS data to build an application.

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Your Ideas

Submitted by Christopher on
I am interested in making it easy for my clients to complete medicare part D reporting and then being able to recall that data through an api to confirm whether or not they have filed for that year. I have a rails application built to handle most of their compliance needs, where can I find documentation on your api to make this happen?
Submitted by Rohit on
how could we use CMS data to build an application? how could we integrate CMS with mirth connect?
Submitted by Debbie Simmons on
I have used CMS in the past working for Skilled Nursing Facilities. I would love to give this a try.