To enhance the utility of federally-funded surveys, Acumen-through a project entitled the Medicare/Medicaid Research Information Center (MedRIC)-has pursued adding individual-linked administrative data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to supplement information in these survey data. Two prominent surveys are the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), both of which provide a wealth of longitudinal data for conducting research on a wide range of economic, health, retirement and social circumstances of the American public. MedRIC has created comprehensive CMS-linked research files for these surveys that include all forms of information from Medicare and Medicaid claims for institutional, physician, and pharmaceutical services. In addition, MedRIC has produced linked files integrating information from CMS assessment datasets, which report numerous health and functional assessments for patients entering certified nursing homes and home health agencies. Under this SBIR application, Acumen will develop and launch a data enclave as a service of MedRIC that will provide for secure remote access to researchers and policy analysts, enabling them to conduct statistical analyses utilizing the linked CMS-HRS and CMS-PSID data. We expect availability of the MedRIC Enclave to markedly expand use of Medicare and Medicaid healthcare data in both scholarly and policy studies using the HRS and PSID, while making empirical work easier and less expensive. Enclave users will not need to acquire either the computing capacities or the facilities required to analyze the data and to protect against disclosures of confidential information. Moreover, overall data security will be substantially enhanced over alternative access methods since no personally identifying information will be distributed and the use of such information will be fully controllable at the individual researcher level. The design and use of the MedRIC Enclave will fully comply with the Data Use Agreement (DUA) procedures and data security protocols established by CMS and HRS/PSID. The Enclave's internet interface and computing infrastructure will support a broad array of privacy policies through remote access. Further, the Enclave will incorporate a series of statistical/data algorithms that limit disclosure of confidential information. Because of these security features, it will be possible to extend access to users currently excluded by the restrictions imposed by CMS and HRS/PSID, which will especially benefit junior faculty, post-doctoral scholars, graduate students, and policy analysts.
Acumen aims to improve the quality of scholarly and policy-related healthcare research through the 'Remote-Access Data Enclave for Analysis of HRS/PSID Linked to Administrative Data' project by facilitating access to high-quality confidential data. The Enclave will provide for secure remote access to a platform that enables researchers to conduct statistical analyses utilizing data files that link CMS administrative data with survey data from the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Because Enclave users will not need to acquire either the extensive computing capacities currently required to utilize MedRIC's survey-linked healthcare files, the Enclave will extend access to users currently excluded from accessing the data by CMS or HRS/PSID restrictions; further, by storing these linked healthcare files in a secure and centralized location, the MedRIC Enclave will greatly lower the risks of disclosure of personally- identifiable information.