The CMS touted the potential for cost savings, contrasting the current six-figure price tag for delivering a year's worth of data with the far lower flat annual fee for use of the data tool.
“Physical delivery of a large sample of Medicare Parts A, B and D data can cost more than $100,000 for just one year of data,” the CMS said. “In contrast, using the VRDC, a single researcher conducting one project over the course of the year can access as much Medicare data as he or she needs for approximately $40,000.”
That $40,000 annual tab covers training and 500 gigabytes of space per researcher. Registered users can use the tool to access a variety of federal data files, including Medicare Part A, B and D claims and the Medicare Provider Analysis and Review, or MedPAR, file.
The agency said the tool would help to eliminate long waits for data requests while providing better access to up-to-date information. In a blog post, Niall Brennan, acting director of the CMS Offices of Enterprise Management, said Medicare data covering 2012 are “only now being shipped to researchers.”
“The VRDC will help investigators access data in a much timelier manner and will provide them with a variety of tools to analyze the data,” Brennan said. “It will also help approved researchers doing approved surveillance and other studies that require current data, which needs to be refreshed on a regular basis, something that has traditionally been unavailable.”
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