As part of its ongoing efforts to make more healthcare data for study and research, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released a public data set for hospice care provided to Medicare beneficiaries.

The Hospice Utilization and Payment Public Use File (Hospice PUF) provides privacy protected information on services provided to Medicare beneficiaries by hospice providers.

In a related announcement, CMS reported that it has released an update to the Market Saturation and Utilization Data Tool, formerly called the Moratoria Provider Services and Utilization Data Tool. For the first time, this tool will include information on hospice services, the agency says.

“The Hospice data and Market Saturation and Utilization Data Tool support our goals of increasing access to Medicare data and improving the flow of information,” said CMS Chief Data Officer Niall Brennan. “CMS believes that greater data transparency leads to a more effectively functioning health care system, which leads to better care and smarter spending.”

Earlier this year, CMS has released prescription drug cost data based on Medicare Part D costs and services, as well as data on Medicare Part B services and procedures data.

The Hospice PUF contains information on utilization, payments, submitted charges, diagnoses and hospice beneficiary demographics organized by provider and state. The Hospice PUF covers calendar year 2014 and includes information on 4,025 hospice providers, more than 1.3 million hospice beneficiaries, and more than $15 billion in Medicare payments.

See Also: CMS releases second annual prescription drug cost data

The data enables the analysis of geographic variations in the delivery of hospice care, as well as variation across individual hospice providers. The Hospice PUF also includes a number of metrics on hospice beneficiary demographics and diagnoses to facilitate analyses of differences in the patient population across providers.

The third release of the Market Saturation and Utilization Data Tool includes interactive maps and supporting data sets that show national-, state-, and county-level provider services and utilization data for three reference periods and the following health service areas: Home Health, Ambulance (Emergency, Non-Emergency, Emergency & Non-Emergency), Independent Diagnostic Testing Facilities (Part A and Part B), Skilled Nursing Facilities, and Hospice.

The Market Saturation and Utilization Data Tool can be used by CMS to monitor market saturation as a means to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. The data can also be used to reveal the degree to which use of a service is related to the number of providers servicing a geographic region.

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