Streamlined, secure access to CMS study data – National Institute on Aging

Priscilla Novak
Priscilla NOVAK,
Program Official ,
Division of Behavioral and Social Research (DBSR)
.

Picture of Dr. Partha Bhattacharyya

NIA-supported studies – including the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), Predictors of Severity of Alzheimer’s Disease, and Project Talent – offer valuable data for scientists conducting aging, health care, and health outcomes research. Many of these types of studies require collaboration with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to gain approvals for incorporating real-world CMS claims data into investigator projects. We are happy to announce a new initiative that was designed to better streamline this process.

Streamlining Linkage and Access

Thanks to a new data use agreement between CMS and NIA, the Medicare & Medicaid Resource Information Center (MedRIC) will help researchers link NIA-funded studies to CMS claims data and access these connections faster and easier via a secure electronic platform. This will make it more efficient for investigators to navigate CMS data as part of their research goals.

MedRIC also standardizes data structures and variable names, meaning less programmer effort is needed to create usable datasets. MedRIC’s links between NIA-sponsored studies, such as HRS and Medicare data, can produce research-ready datasets on economic, demographic, and biologic factors influencing health and aging. NIA has also funded the development of the Health & Aging Data (HaAD) Enclave, a secure, easy-to-navigate, and remotely accessible statistical analysis environment that meets federal data security requirements for protecting personally identifiable and/or private health information.

Assisting with research on COVID-19

MedRIC can also assist investigators tracking and analyzing Medicare and Medicaid claims data on COVID-19 exposure in older adults. The new process will allow responses to requests for monthly claims data updates to accelerate understanding of the pandemic’s impact on vulnerable older adults. The system can benchmark COVID-19 exposure against other comorbidities in near real-time, enabling investigators to dynamically follow the longitudinal impact of the virus on their study population.

How to apply for CMS data

NIA-funded researchers who do not currently participate in CMS data linkages but who would like to get started can make a request to access data with MedRIC. We urge you to make use of this new, helpful data resource as you expand your research horizons!

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