DOE labs help CMS manage healthcare data


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has more data and must facilitate its use with a broader array of partners thanks to initiatives mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148). By the end of 2015 Medicare claims data will almost double and Medicaid claims data will triple, "that's not counting the quality and counter data that we have," said CMS Chief Information Officer Tony Trenkle Oct. 18 at the AFCEA Bethesda Health IT Day in Bethesda, Md.

The agency looked to the Energy Department's Oak Ridge National Laboratory for help creating a consolidated warehouse environment that can utilize more data tools and services.

"The idea with Oak Ridge was to get the folks who do big data with the National Weather Service, with DoD and other areas and see if some of the work they did in those areas could be looked at in the healthcare arena," said Trenkle.

After a year of testing technologies, such as Hadoop, at Oak Ridge, CMS is bringing the strategy to its Baltimore data center to see how the tests work within a different security infrastructure, at a different scale and for CMS's specific operational needs.

Data management is a major focus for CMS, said Trenkle, who said CMS recently stood up a new office for data management and analysis.

"We have not had a good data analysis policy shop that was centralized," said Trenkle. "It created a lot of disconnects across the enterprise."

The agency is also trying to create a more consolidated work environment by leveraging virtual data centers. It will soon award a data center virtualization contract that could cut its data center footprint from 80 to six or eight data centers, as well as reduce energy consumption.

Once again, CMS partnered with DOE. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory helped CMS draft an energy conservation measures plan that will be part of their overall technical solution.

"DOE has told us this is the first one they've seen in the government," said Trenkle. "I'm hoping it's something we can emulate in some of our other programs and maybe utilize it as a model across HHS."

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