The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) yesterday publicly released the first annual update to Medicare hospital charge data, which show that inpatient charges increased in 2012 but by less than 5% for the majority of Medicare procedures studied.
The hospital data include information for the 100 most common inpatient services and 30 common outpatient services. For the inpatient diagnosis-related groups (DRGs), the average charges, average total payments, and average Medicare payments are calculated at the individual hospital level, allowing the public to make comparisons between the amount charged by individual hospitals within local markets, and nationwide. The outpatient data contain the Ambulatory Payment ambulatory payment classification (APCs), the estimated average charges and the average Medicare payments at the individual hospital level.
Now with both 2011 and 2012 data available, CMS has begun to look at trends in hospital charges, including variations in utilization and charges. CMS reported that the data show a wide variation in charges even within the same geographic area. In addition, CMS’ website now includes interactive dashboards for the CMS Chronic Conditions Data Warehouse and geographic variation data. The agency’s release was around the annual Health Datapalooza conference this week in Washington, DC.
Along with the Medicare data and new tools, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched openFDA, an initiative that provides public access to large data sets on drug side effects and medication errors. The information will be available in machine-readable, application programming interface (API)-based formats.