Improving Capabilities to Understand Data
The ability to use data from HHS sources is dependent on the resources and descriptors that are provided with it to provide specificity and context to its value. While HHS is at work making more data resources available through Healthdata.gov, increased efforts are underway to provide tools, and enhance the descriptive information about the data, i.e., metadata, in our data resources.
- Online Analytic System for National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Analytic Tool
One way the National Center for Health Statistics/CDC is addressing the understanding of health survey data is through a new dual-component online, real-time analytic system for analysis of National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data at the level of individual respondents, or so-called microdata. One component will provide analyses of public-use NHIS microdata files and the second component will support analyses of public use NHIS microdata along with selected NHIS data that are restricted use files, with a focus on providing state-specific uses. The initial phase of the project—to ensure that new screening methods were developed that will meet the strict disclosure avoidance requirements of NCHS data systems while increasing accessibility and maintaining sufficient quality of the analyses—was recently completed. The developmental phase of the tool will be publicly available in early 2013.
- Closing Data Gaps in the Tracking Accountability in Government Grant Systems
The Tracking and Accountability in Government Grants system (TAGGS) is the single repository for HHS grant award data and is available to the public. TAGGS was established in 1995 and in large part addresses the HHS requirement associated with the Federal Financial Transparency and Accountability Act which requires federal agencies to publicly post all financial spending including grants, cooperative agreements, loans, and aggregated direct payment information. The 2012 initiative focuses on ensuring the full complement of Operating Division discretionary and non-discretionary data as posted to TAGGS with a special emphasis on development of a methodology used to aggregate and post “direct payment” information.
- CMS Enrollment Dashboard
For many years information on the numbers of beneficiaries enrolled in traditional fee-for-service, Medicare Advantage and Part D has been maintained and displayed on different parts of the CMS website. Therefore, in order to obtain a full view of Medicare enrollment internal and external users has to download multiple different files. The Medicare Enrollment Dashboard creates a user-friendly process whereby users can get a complete picture of Medicare enrollment across the multiple types of programs from 1966 to the present. The project will be initiated in early 2012 and will be maintained continuously.
- Guide to HRSA Health Center Networks
The Network Guide is a directory of Health Center Networks and offers helpful tips to engage directly with potential network partners. It is a user-friendly resource for grantees of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), safety net providers, and all health care organizations seeking information and technical assistance with their quality improvement and operational efforts. The Guide is a collaborative project between HRSA and the National Association of Community Health Centers and is due to be updated in March 2012.
- CMS Data Navigator
The CMS Data Navigator is a web-based search and retrieval tool that will reside on the CMS.gov website. The tool’s purpose is to connect researchers, policy makers, fellow government employees, and the general public to various data resources that are available under an array of access policies. The Data Navigator tool will give users a simple point-and-click interface to conduct content searches based on a predefined catalog of keywords. Users will be able to use the tool to perform basic searches as well as very detailed advanced searches. Data Navigator results will include multiple types of CMS data and information, including:
- publicly available data files
- restricted-use data files
- fact sheets
- interactive tools
Navigator result sets will also include links to high profile CMS program data housed on external web sites (such as Kaiser and the Institute of Medicine).
In addition to providing a robust search tool, the CMS Data Navigator will also provide user support with FAQ’s, a keyword glossary, and an ability to ask data-related questions of subject matter experts. The Navigator will significantly improve transparency, allowing users to easily locate CMS data. Moreover, the Navigator is expected to reduce the number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests because CMS data users will find their data more easily. The Data Navigator tool will be available in June 2012.
- 5 Star Quality Ratings for Medicare Performance Measurement
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is committed to improving the Medicare Part C and Part D quality performance measurement system by focusing on improving beneficiary outcomes, beneficiary satisfaction, population health, and efficiency of health care delivery. As new measures are developed and adopted, they will be incorporated into the Plan Ratings published each year on the Medicare Plan Finder website and used to determine star ratings for quality bonus payments. The Medicare Advantage quality bonuses (also referred to as value-based payments) are an important step to revamping how care and services are paid for, moving increasingly toward rewarding better value, outcomes, and innovations.
The current Plan Ratings-strategy is consistent with CMS’s mission of better care, better health, and lower costs, with measures spanning the following five broad categories:
- Outcome measures focus on improvements to a beneficiary’s health as a result of the care that is provided.
- Intermediate outcome measures help move closer to true outcome measures; controlling blood pressure is one example of an intermediate outcome measure where the related outcome of interest would be better health status for beneficiaries with hypertension.
- Patient experience measures represent beneficiaries’ perspectives about the care they have received.
- Access measures reflect issues that may create barriers to receiving needed care; Plan Makes Timely Decisions about Appeals is an example of an access measure.
- Process measures capture the method by which health care is provided.
In December 2011, CMS sent a Request for Comments to Part C and D sponsors, stakeholders, and advocates that described CMS’s proposed methodology for the 2013 Plan Ratings for Medicare Advantage (MA) and Prescription Drug Plans. The purpose of this early alert was to provide plans and advocates with advance notice of the methodology so that CMS could identify any needed changes in advance of the 2013 Call Letter establishing the ratings methodology for the next plan year. As a result of these comments, we are now proposing that two measures be included as display measures, rather than measures included in the star ratings (measures from the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting program and the Medication Therapy Management Comprehensive Medication Review measure).
- HRSA Facts: Drill Down from Nation-to-Region-to-State-to-County-to-Congressional District
The integration of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Fact Sheets is a new HRSA Data Warehouse initiative that aims to create a user-friendly, integrated series of data-driven fact sheets about HRSA’s health care activities (e.g., funding, designations, and job opportunities) at the National, Regional, State, County, and Congressional District levels. The Fact Sheets will be provided as a web-based user interface that allows for improved access to information on multiple geographic areas. This initiative will take the existing stove-piped HRSA in Your Nation and State Fact Sheets and consolidate them into an integrated platform, which will result in easy navigation as well as accessibility to charts and more detailed data that are not currently available in the existing Fact Sheets. The online tool is scheduled for availability in the Summer of 2013.
- Medicare Data to Support Care Coordination for Medicare and Medicaid Enrollees
In FY 2011, CMS made available a new process for State Medicaid Agencies to request timely Medicare Parts A, B and D data for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees to support care coordination. Having access to Medicare data is an essential tool for states seeking to coordinate care, improve quality, and control costs for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees. States may request the following: Medicare Parts A and B claims, Part D event, and Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D eligibility and enrollment data. These data are critical to care coordination and partnerships with states, while also increasing the transparency and openness of CMS for external partners. To support and facilitate this effort, CMS is providing ongoing technical assistance, through the Integrated Care Resources Center, to states seeking or newly using these data to coordinate care for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees.