Contest Seeks Tool To Help Patients Navigate Medicare Pay Data
April 10, 2014 in News
On Thursday, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT announced a software developer competition aimed at creating tools that will assist patients in reviewing newly released Medicare physician payment data, Health Data Management reports (Goedert, Health Data Management, 4/10).
About the Data
On Wednesday, CMS posted online data on physician payments made under Medicare Part B in 2012.
Specifically, the data include:
- Physicians’ names and addresses;
- Summaries of the services provided; and
- The amount providers were paid for the services.
The data do not include any patient information. Further, CMS will not release any information on providers with fewer than 11 patients who are Medicare beneficiaries.
Overall, the data break down $77 billion in Medicare payments to more than 880,000 health care providers in 2012, including $12 billion for about 214 million office and outpatient visits (iHealthBeat, 4/9).
The goal of the contest — called the Data Supporting Decisions Challenge — is to take the raw data and present it in ways that consumers can easily understand, according to a notice published in the Federal Register.
Specifically, ONC is seeking interactive data visualization tools that convey “complex data from multiple sources in ways that support consumer decisions for making value-based health care decisions.”
ONC noted that the tools should help consumers make health care-related decisions, such as referrals. Consumers should be able to enter their own health and claims data.
The tools should focus on:
- Services offered in facility and office settings; and
- Payment and charges data.
Developers can submit their projects to ONC beginning April 14. Finalists will then demonstrate their projects during the June Datapalooza conference, at which time winners will be announced (Health Data Management, 4/10).
Physician Groups Comment on Data Release
Meanwhile, physician groups have criticized the data release, saying a lack of contextual information makes the data misleading, Healthcare IT News reports.
While the American Medical Association noted the need for payment transparency, AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven added, “We believe that the broad data dump … has significant short-comings regarding the accuracy and value of the medical services rendered by physicians.” Hoven added, “Releasing the data without context will likely lead to inaccuracies, misinterpretations, false conclusions and other unintended consequences” (Irving, Healthcare IT News, 4/9).
In addition, the Medical Group Management Association raised concerns about “physician privacy, as releasing physician’s personal financial data and National Provider Identifier (NPI) information could make providers susceptible to fraud” (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 4/9).