Officials may push data-sharing as new Medicare participation requirement

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Seema Verma
Seema Verma

The federal government is considering making data sharing a requirement of participating in Medicare, and officials want to hear what providers think of the idea.

That was one of the key takeaways amid the slew of activity from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Friday. Alongside new payment and policy proposals, CMS is also pushing hard toward full interoperability — ideally with providers at different levels of care sharing their records among each other and with patients.

Administrator Seema Verma told attendees at the Health Datapalooza meeting, in Washington, D.C., last week that her agency is considering whether providers “should be required to share health data with patients as a condition of participation in Medicare.”

“Times have changed. Consumers' demands have changed. And the expectations of CMS have changed. We must all accept the fact that patients can never again be kept in the dark when it comes to their healthcare information,” she said.

CMS asked for feedback on its desire for interoperability as part of its announcement of the new Patient Driven Payment Model on Friday. Agency leaders said such feedback will help their next steps.

“Commenters should provide clear and concise proposals that include data and specific examples. CMS will not respond to RFI comment submissions in the final rule, but rather will actively consider all input in developing future regulatory proposals or future sub-regulatory guidance,” they wrote.

Verma noted in her speech that CMS is also increasingly making its own data available to researchers, including its recent first-ever release of Medicare Advantage data. It has further plans to do the same with Medicaid and CHIP information.

“CMS wants to partner with you to foster innovation and competition to ensure a value-based healthcare system. We can't unlock the power of data without your collaboration,” she said in her Datapalooza speech. “Tell us what pieces may be missing, and let us know what still needs to be done. That's my call to action to each of you. Who knows what knowledge — what treatments and cures — are hidden in the reams of CMS data.  Help us use it securely. After all, this is knowledge that could change the life of a patient — or the trajectory of a healthcare system. And we will all be the better for it.”