CMS opens data to private and commercial sector research

Entrepreneurs and other private-sector researchers will soon be able to access data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, including the Medicare fee-for-service claims database, for commercial purposes.

The new policy was announced by acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt on Tuesday at Health Datapalooza, a national conference on open healthcare data.

The new policy reverses a longstanding rule that prevented private entities from using CMS data. Researchers who have purchased subscriptions to the CMS Virtual Research Data Center will be able to submit research requests in September, but only for approved projects.

Slavitt said the goal of the new open data policy is “shaking up healthcare innovation and setting a new standard for data transparency.”

CMS also announced that it will begin releasing research data quarterly, instead of annually, in August, with an expected three-month “completion lag.”