US/World

HHS Data Release Reveals Major Disparities In Outpatient Charges From Hospital To Hospital

Health Care Records
Health care reform can help align preventive care recommendations with Medicare coverage Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released data on Monday regarding the allocation of Medicare spending, innovation within the medical field, selected data on hospital outpatient charges, and computerized health data.

Data was compiled by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in preparation for Health Datapalooza IV in Washington D.C. Health Datapalooza is a national conference held each year featuring up-to-date health innovation and data use by hospital, private practice physicians, universities, non-profits, and government agencies. 

"A more data driven and transparent health care marketplace can help consumers and their families make important decisions about their care," stated HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

"The administration is committed to making the health system more transparent and harnessing data to empower consumers."

Some of the information released by the HHS included the uses of health care data by employers and how it can be controlled for privacy purposes. Employer access to personal health records can lead to a bevy of concerns for employees and their family.

Researchers and developers concentrated their findings on three questions: How can data and tools for each strategy be strengthened? How can the power and utility of data and supporting evidence be increased? How can the alignment and combined power of public and private efforts be maximized?

The following data was released by the HHS:

-          National estimates for 30 types of hospital outpatient procedures including clinic visits, echocardiograms, and endoscopies.

-          Countywide estimates on Medicare spending and utilization and Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions.

-          With the help of Regional Extension Centers, the ONC released data addressing the various electronic health record (EHR) products used by 146,000 state and private practice doctors.

-          Announcements regarding the launch of ONC co-sponsored competitions "Code-a-palooza" and the Blue Button Co-Design Challenge. The ONC also announced the winners of Apps4TotsHealth Challenge, which had developers, researchers, and innovators probe new methods for making health information Internet-accessible.

-          Recorded use of the two AHRQ health databases Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). The HCUP encompasses 97 percent of inpatient hospital discharges and the MEPS is considered the most accurate source health care service information in the U.S.

 

To receive a comprehensive list of the announcements made at the fourth annual Datapalooza, visit the Health Data Consortium's event page.

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