Dashboard serves chronic condition data

A technology tool made available March 28 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) offers physicians and other healthcare stakeholders a means of getting current data on where multiple chronic conditions occur, which services they require and how much Medicare spends helping beneficiaries with multiple conditions.

“More than two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries have multiple chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and that number will rise with an aging population,” said CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a statement introducing the dashboard. “The Affordable Care Act addresses these health problems by making people with Medicare eligible for recommended preventive care without Part B deductibles or copayments. The healthcare law also promotes better healthcare coordination and management of chronic conditions through analysis of current data.”

The Medicare Chronic Conditions Dashboard is part of the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Initiative on Multiple Chronic Conditions, established in 2009. The Multiple Chronic Conditions: A Strategic Framework was developed to serve as a national roadmap for coordinating and improving the health of beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions, according to HHS.

HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, MD, MPH, explained that the web-based tool "provides new and critical data that can help us develop better patient-centered approaches to improve health outcomes, lower costs, and maximize quality of life.”

Specifically, it presents 2011 state, Hospital Referral Region and national comparison data on the prevalence of chronic conditions, as well as Medicare costs and utilization measures for beneficiaries with chronic conditions. The user can manipulate visualizations of Medicare data. (The screenshot above represents a sample view of hyperlipidemia co-morbidity in California.)

In calendar year 2011, spending for Medicare beneficiaries with two or more chronic conditions was approximately $276 billion, about 93 percent of all Medicare spending, according to CMS. Analytics based on dashboard data can be an important tool to support policies to help slow the growth in costs for beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions in years ahead, the agency noted.

The dashboard helps users find, analyze, and apply summarized data from CMS’ Chronic Conditions Data Warehouse. The agency said this consolidated view of data will promote better understanding of overlapping medical conditions related to overall patient health, helping to identify common concurrent conditions and areas where prevention and treatment can improve care and lower costs.

The dashboard’s analytics identify states and populations that have demonstrated success in care and management of beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions. As such, the findings can inform programs, policies and best practices for Medicare and the healthcare system as a whole. CMS said that is an essential step in transforming Medicare from a fee-for-service based payer to a value-based purchaser of care that links payments to quality and efficiency of care -- rather than sheer volume of services.

CMS added that the dashboard’s summarized data lends itself to ease-of-use and protects patients’ privacy by not releasing individually identifiable health information. The agency also said the release of the dashboard reflects the current administration's "commitment to increasing the accessibility and usability of federally held data wherever possible and appropriate."

Click here to access the dashboard.

Screenshot courtesy of CMS.