Boughn aims to bring CMS systems out of the 1970s

Tuesday - 6/29/2010, 7:09pm EDT

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July 1, 2010 -- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid is being required to modernize its technology infrastructure. Congress in the Hi-Tech Act, passed as part of the Recovery Act in 2009, requires CMS to develop a technology modernization plan by the end of the year.

Julie Boughn, the CMS chief information officer, says the plan is giving her an opportunity to generate focus in the agency to upgrade critical systems running on 1980s and 1970s technology.

She says it's complex to change their current technology environment.

CMS, however, is used to change. Boughn says the agency has a mature systems governance process in place because Congress annually requires some alterations to the way the agency administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Boughn says because CMS takes seven months to plan, test and implement quarterly updates, her office is working on as many as three releases at any one time. She says CMS is like a software development firm in many ways.

CMS also is working on making more information available to help solve health care challenges around cost, access and care. Boughn says the answers are hidden in the large databases or sequential files CMS runs. She is trying to figure out how to get the right information to the decision makers in the agency and the private sector.