Data management will advance open source software and public health services

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are working to create an open source software office that will facilitate data sharing in the public health ecosystem.

The open-source software is proving to be a reliable and valuable tool for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as the agency works to refine healthcare design and optimize websites to improve service delivery. services.

Andrea Fletcher, executive director of digital services at CMS, said open source software improves service delivery efficiency and transparency and also leads to cost savings.

“I personally think the key to interoperability and ensuring that systems can communicate with each other is open source,” Fletcher said at FCW’s Innovations in Health IT event this week. “I’ve seen it done elsewhere in the world. I’ve seen it done very well and when it works it’s an amazing tool in our interoperability toolkit. Ensuring that the code we use in different states and government programs can all be linked because they are all developed in the open.

Open source has allowed CMS to keep abreast of technological improvements and to be an “early adopter” of new solutions.

“That’s one of the joys of open source, we don’t know what the next technology will be that we have to adapt to, we don’t know what the future holds, but we can basically stay ahead on gaming by leveraging it as it hits the market and then scales very quickly,” Fletcher said.

CMS is working to grow its open source software community and strategy by creating a special office.

“We think about culture and education, what does it look like when we onboard new developers to CMS,” Fletcher said. “What tools do we need and what processes should we put in place to ensure that the code we wire is the best code possible.”

Fletcher also described some of the things CMS is doing to build the new open-source program office, like new data governance models.

“There are many patterns and bounties for bugs, conferences, guidelines, and best practices. We take inventory of our code repositories and offer different governance models,” Fletcher said. “So that’s what we plan to do over the next two years is really to put in place all the education tools, policies, practices and communications that we need.”

Dr. Alan Sim, PhD, chief data officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the agency launched the Data Modernization Initiative (DMI) to address the complexity of data flows.

This effort has helped CDC move from siled and fragile public health data systems to responsive systems that are more connected, resilient, adaptable, and sustainable.

“Ready systems that can help us solve problems before they happen and reduce the damage caused by problems that do occur,” Dr. Sim said at the FCW event. “So there’s the prevention aspect of the CDC, what information can we gather to forecast and predict things, and then there’s the information needed for emergency response and we have to solve problems in real time .

The CDC has learned many lessons during the pandemic. Sims believes that if there is another public health emergency and the CDC has met EMR goals, the agency will have a better foundation for sharing data across all levels of the health administration. public.

“There are a lot of complications with sharing data that people don’t recognize. A lot of that data resides with their state, tribal, and territorial partners,” Sim said. “We need to work on data policies and data use agreements, so we’re trying to find ways not just during the emergency response, but even afterwards, to be able to have a common operational picture before something happens. not happen.”

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