With the release of 2012 Medicare hospital charge data Monday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services jumpstarted the two-day annual Health Datapalooza conference in Washington, D.C.
CMS released its first annual update to the payment data comparing the average amount hospitals bill for services. Now data for 2012 and 2011 is public.
The data posted Monday on the CMS Web site includes information comparing the average hospital charges for services that may be provided in connection with the 100 most common Medicare inpatient stays at more than 3,000 hospitals in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
With two years of data now available, researchers can begin to look for trends in hospital charges.
CMS also expanded its offering of online query tools interactive dashboards for the cost data, as well as CMS Chronic Conditions Data Warehouse and geographic variation data.
But due to the size of the CMS data files now being released, data analysts should not expect to be able to load the files into Microsoft Excel or Access software. Instead heavier-duty data analytics software such as SAS will be required in order to perform analytics, CMS acting director of enterprise management Niall Brennan said.