CMS Names Niall Brennan as Nation’s First Chief Data Officer

November 20, 2014 in News

On Wednesday, CMS announced Niall Brennan will become the agency’s first chief data officer and will be responsible for overseeing efforts to improve data collection and transparency and leading the department’s new Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics, Modern Healthcare reports (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 11/19).

Background on Brennan, Role

Brennan comes to the position after serving as acting director for CMS’ Offices of Enterprise Management, where he led various data programs (Modern Healthcare, 11/19). Prior to that, Brennan was the director of the Office of Information Products and Data Analytics at CMS, where he oversaw projects related to:

  • Analytics;
  • Data storage and dissemination; and
  • New information products (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 11/19).

Details of New Chief Data Officer Role

In a statement, CMS said that the industry’s transition from volume-based payments to outcome-focused reimbursements “will only intensify” the agency’s need to compare data across platforms and make it more accessible (Viebeck, The Hill, 11/19).

In his new role, Brennan will oversee the collection and dissemination of information about CMS programs and initiatives, such as:

  • The Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges;
  • The meaningful use program;
  • Medicare;
  • Medicaid; and
  • Quality measurement programs (Health Data Management, 11/19).

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Andy Slavitt said data transparency will help:

  • Assist consumers with decision-making;
  • Improve health care outcomes; and
  • Manage costs (Modern Healthcare, 11/19).

He added that Brennan’s appointment to the new role “signals to the industry that there is no turning back from the health care data agenda” (Health Data Management, 11/19).

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