HHS emphasizes dashboards, new datasets in transparency plan

Medicare patient claims data to be released to public for the first time

The Health and Human Services Department is unveiling two new performance management dashboards and publishing de-identified Medicare patient claims data for the public for the first time as part of 17 initiatives detailed in its Open Government Plan.

The Food and Drug Administration and HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) are each developing performance management online dashboard systems to track their activities and programs, according to the plan published April 7.

The FDA-TRACK (Transparency, Results, Accountability, Credibility and Knowledge-sharing) dashboard was launched in beta mode April 7 to allow visitors to view performance data at the program office level.

Once completely implemented, the FDA-TRACK dashboard will offer monthly data about more than 300 performance measures on more than 80 FDA programs. The measures include the timeliness of reviews, the number of high-risk inspections completed, and the completion of key research projects. The site allows visitors to submit comments on both the general features of the program as well as specific performance measures. Web site hits and feedback will be monitored on a daily basis.

ONCHIT, which is developing the policies for distribution of $20 billion in economic stimulus law funding for health information technology, expects to introduce its online performance management dashboard in beta mode by the end of 2010, the plan said.

ONCHIT will use information generated by its programs, its internal processes and formal evaluations to address the needs of various stakeholders.

Also in the plan, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is releasing to the public for the first time Medicare patient claims data. “This will represent the first time these kinds of data have been made available to the public,” the plan said.

The data will be culled from a random sample of 5 percent of the Medicare population in 2008. To protect privacy, the data will be scrubbed of all identifiers and limited to certain variables. Starting in September, the de-identified Medicare claim “basic files” will be released on Data.gov for inpatient and outpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facilities and several other types of care.

“To date, access to these claims has been very restricted. CMS is initiating a project to improve access to its data by creating 'basic files' from claims data for public use,” the plan stated. “This work will be executed through a rigorous and intensive process, consulting closely with privacy experts, re-identification experts, researchers, and key stakeholders, to ensure that beneficiary confidentiality is entirely protected.”

Overall, the plan highlights 14 new datasets, including the Medicare basic files as well as a CMS dashboard for displaying Medicare inpatient hospital data and a new online data set of community health information.

The plan refers to CMS and the FDA as agencies “emerging as leaders of the next generation of transparency at HHS.” The plan also touts FDA transparency initiatives overall and HHS efforts to reduce the Freedom of Information Act backlog.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

Reader comments

Sun, Apr 18, 2010

Where is the story about the Medicare Dashboard that the Secretary talked about recently? Very little coverage other than a mere mention of this initiative. It is already posted at cms.gov/dashboard and http://www.hhs.gov/open/plan/opengovernmentplan/transparency/dataset_1.html Apparently there was a CIO award given for this according to vendors in the industry? What award - where can we find this information?

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group