Medicare, Medicaid get ‘big data’ chief

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is creating the position of chief data officer to improve transparency, agency officials said Wednesday. 

Niall Brennan, the agency official who will take on the role, will be charged with collecting and disseminating information about Medicare, Medicaid, the ObamaCare marketplaces, the Children's Health Insurance Program and other initiatives. 

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"It’s clear how much data transparency will help the country improve outcomes, control costs and aid consumer decision making," said CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Andy Slavitt in a statement. 

“This appointment signals to the industry that there is no turning back from the healthcare data agenda," Slavitt said. 

The move is intended to accelerate the dissemination and improve the helpfulness of data released by CMS for players across the healthcare world. 

The agency received kudos this year and last after releasing data on hospital billings and physician payments to the public for the first time. 

In his position, Brennan will lead CMS's new Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics. He formerly headed the Office of Enterprise Management.