Saturday, January 3, 2015

Feds Looking for Company to Run 'National Data Warehouse' for Obamacare, Medicare

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is looking for vendors to run its "National Data Warehouse", a database for "capturing, aggregating, and analyzing information" related to beneficiary and customer experiences with Medicare and the federal health insurance Marketplaces. Although the database primarily consists of quality control metrics related to individuals' interactions with customer service, potential contractors are to "[d]emonstrate ... experience with scalability and security in protecting data and information with customer, person-sensitive information including Personal Health Information and Personally Identifiable information (personal health records, etc.)." Vendors are also instructed that one of the requirements of a possible future contract would be "[e]nsuring that all products developed and delivered adhere to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance standards[.]"
    For a number of years, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the division of HHS responsible for Medicare and now Obamacare also, has maintained a "national data warehouse" (NDW) related to the 1-800-MEDICARE helpline. The passage of the Affordable Care Act and subsequent establishment of the Marketplaces has expanded the scope of the NDW. The CMS notice explains the NDW as follows:
The NDW performs a significant role with oversight and monitoring functions under the Virtual Call Center Strategy (VCS) initiative and Medicare Reform legislation. The NDW acts as the central repository for capturing, aggregating, and analyzing information related to the beneficiary experience with Medicare and the consumer experience with Marketplaces. The NDW also serves as a foundation for operational and management reporting to support improved decision-making, business practices, and services to callers. 
    The type of data included in the NDW "includes information for CMS’ Virtual Contact Center operations including, but not necessarily limited to" items such as "Workforce management data", "Quality monitoring", "Medicare disenrollments", "Beneficiary satisfaction surveys", and "Web Chat metrics." The NDW is part of CMS's larger $15 billion "Virtual Data Center" program awarded to multiple vendors in 2012. The eventual vendor for the NDW must be able to integrate and share data with the other Virtual Data Center vendors.
    The description for the "NDW Functional Requirements" included thirty-six items, several with multiple subpoints, and even this list is not meant to be "all inclusive" according to CMS. In addition to these functions, the "contractor shall implement a security program that adheres to CMS security standards." Interested vendors have until January 19, 2015, to respond.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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