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CMS Employs Cloud to Help with Major Data Sharing and Cataloging Initiative

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is utilizing cloud to eliminate silos and significantly improve data sharing and cataloging across the agency.

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is seeing an explosive amount of data as its population of beneficiaries continues to soar. There are currently over 60 million people enrolled in Medicare and more than 70 million people enrolled in Medicaid. This has prompted CMS to invest in cloud technologies to enhance data sharing and cataloging.

CMS CTO George Linares said the agency is always trying to work internally to see what works best in the environment given the vast amount of data housed within the agency.  The objective is to integrate the best technologies that allow CMS to serve quality and better measure the point of care to patients.

“Our goal from a CTO/CIO perspective, is working with the different programs and other entities within the agency that need access to the data and finding efficient ways to work together,” Linares said. “We’re always looking for the latest technologies including cloud and try to go in that direction due to efficiencies and cost savings that technology can provide.”

CMS is in the middle of sorting through and sharing a massive amount within the agency. Linares said it has on-prem and cloud databases, but it’s currently trying to move everything to the cloud.

“Now we’re in the cloud and using Snowflake, and we’re beginning to tag a lot of what’s [personal identifiable information] and [personal health information],” Linares said. “We do categorize the data by domains. That’s one way we sort of try to look and see what you’re looking for in terms of what information can and can’t be shared and we do have an internal process everyone follows.”

Cloud is also playing a role in a huge data cataloging initiative underway at CMS.

“We are in the midst of doing a much larger catalog effort because what we have today is a little siloed, and with the amounts of data and how the big programs are in the agency, everyone is trying to work and meet their own program’s specific mission. Even though we’re one agency, the different programs have their own governance model as it relates to the business side,” Linrares said.

From the enterprise side, the agency’s goal is to work with the programs, not slow them down, and enable what they’re trying to do while adding value, Linares added.

What’s happening more often with the cataloging of data at CMS is not just the process itself, but also where it resides and how to access that data, especially in the new virtual environment.

“We have to be able to document, automate and capture this information in a more tangible way so when new people come to the agency are able to see where all the data is that the agency has,” Linares said. “Today we don’t have one place where all of this exists, it’s just siloed. That’s one effort we are trying to put more priority under and push it forward.”

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