The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in late November that it has designated the agency’s first “Chief Data Officer” to lead a new Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics (OEDA).  Niall Brennan will serve as the agency’s CDO and his office will oversee “improvements in data collection and dissemination as the agency strives to be more transparent.”  Brennan most recently served as Acting Director of the CMS Offices of Enterprise Management (OEM), which, among other things, oversee strategic planning for the agency.

It is unclear whether OEDA will replace or work in tandem with a similar office CMS established two years ago.  The Office of Information Products and Data Analytics (OIPDA) was created in 2012 to administer a new data initiative to “maximize CMS data for internal and external users” and to oversee CMS’s portfolio of data.  When OIPDA was established, CMS expected that “the development, management, use, and dissemination of data and information resources [to] become one of CMS’s core functions.”  Mr. Brennan served as director of OIPDA before assuming leadership of OEM.

CMS controls a wealth of health care-related data due to its role overseeing Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act federal exchanges.  CMS processes over 1.3 billion Medicare claims per year and also receives data via the Medicare Advantage program, the Medicare and Medicaid meaningful use programs, and the ACA health insurance exchanges.  Many stakeholders believe that analysis of these data could inform questions concerning health care quality, cost, and coverage not only in federal health programs but throughout the U.S. health care system.