- CMS Administrator Seema Verma on Monday touted progress CMS has made toward having developers use Medicare claims data to facilitate cost-effective care. Speaking at the Blue Button 2.0 Developers Conference held at the White House, she noted that about 600 organizations are now partnering to develop tools aimed at helping patients manage their health.
- The CMS chief said the goal is to someday be able to aggregate genetic information, medical records, claims data and wearable data in one electronic health record people can share with doctors and researchers.
- Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Oracle, IBM and Salesforce announced an agreement Monday, pledging they "are jointly committed to removing barriers for the adoption of technologies for healthcare interoperability, particularly those that are enabled through the cloud and AI." Also at the conference, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality set a $250,000 competition for creation of an application that can collect standardized patient-reported outcomes data.
Verma pointed to CMS' recent release of Medicare Advantage data as one step toward the effort to speed interoperability between EHRs and PHRs, and said the agency hopes to release state Medicaid data next year to further facilitate the effort. CMS also plans to call on private insurers to release claims data in an API format. "You’ll see through our regulatory process that we are very serious about that," Verma said.
CMS is "absolutely committed to interoperability and pushing every lever that we can," Verma said, adding that the agency is examining having interoperability and data sharing be a requirement for providers to participate in the Medicare program.
"We're looking at all our regulatory authority and what we can do to advance interoperability and you've seen that in the rule that we finalized for hospitals, and with providers. We have more to come, we're not done with those two initial things. We've hinted at some of the things we want to see in the Medicare Advantage program. There will be more that you'll see in the next couple of months to continue to push around interoperability," Verma told MedTech Dive.
Among the 600 companies partnering on the Blue Button 2.0 initiative are Verily Life Sciences, Rush, Humetrix, Health Endeavors, Anthem, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 23andMe, Medware and 3K Technologies, according to CMS.
Google hopes the agreement among the major tech companies will lead to interoperability of healthcare data through AI and the cloud.
"We are pleased to join others in the technology and healthcare ecosystem in this joint commitment to remove barriers and create solutions for the adoption of technologies for healthcare data interoperability. This will enable the delivery of high quality patient care, higher user satisfaction, and lower costs across the entire healthcare ecosystem," Gregory Moore, VP of healthcare at Google Cloud, said in a statement.
Verma said that, ultimately, the goal for the applications being developed with such data is to enable patients to better engage with their personal health, suggesting that such apps could organize medication lists to prevent adverse reactions, help with adherence and improve preventative care.
"What we saw today is that app developers are taking this data and right now it's just gobbledygook claims data," Verma said. "They are taking the data and making it more meaningful for the patient."
CMS is still in the process of hiring a chief informatics officer, who will help facilitate the agency's digital efforts, including Blue Button 2.0, according to Verma.
Verma also pointed to value being created by sharing claims data with researchers. Partnerships around sharing data are becoming more common: GlaxoSmithKline recently announced it would collaborate with 23andMe to use its genetic data database to facilitate drug development.
"From a big picture standpoint, imagine that we have all those data available and NIH researchers or other manufacturers, pharmaceutical manufacturers are able to take that data and actually come out with new treatments or new cures," Verma said.