Information Bulletin, April 2001


Web Site News
HIPAA News
Proposed Emergency Department Legislation
SPARCS Edit Issues

Web Site News

As we announced in the February Bulletin, the 1999 SPARCS Annual Report can be downloaded from our Public Web site. Our usual practice is to distribute a hard copy of the report to each hospital. This year there was a problem with a portion of that distribution. Any facility not receiving their copy should contact the SPARCS Administrative Unit at sparcs@health.state.ny.us. Once again we thank the hospitals for their cooperation in making our database 99% complete for another year.

Since our last bulletin there have been some additions and modifications to our Web site:

  • You probably noticed that the SPARCS Web site has been modified to remain consistent with Department's Web site. It is a new and improved look, but the functionality of our site remains the same. As always, we will continue to update and improve the information available through our Web site.

  • The audit and submission history reports for 2001 are now available.

  • There is a new "Other Related Web Sites" section under General SPARCS Information. This option provides linkage to other Web sites we think will be of interest to our many Web users.

  • Our of our SPARCS Input Data Dictionary has been enhanced to include a mapping of the current Version 5 and Version 6 formats to the standard being used for the HIPAA claim transaction, 837. This is done in anticipation of the publication of a reporting implementation guide, which will detail the use of the 837 for satisfying SPARCS requirements. It is important to note that the writing of this reporting guide using the 837 has been officially approved by ANSI ASC X12N and will be written in collaboration with the Public Health Data Standards Consortium and the National Association of Health Data Organizations (NAHDO). It is our intent to continue to make the SPARCS data collection consistent with national standards. If anyone has any questions about this project or would like to participate in the development of this guide, they should contact the SPARCS Administrative Unit at sparcs@health.state.ny.us.
HIPAA News

The HIPAA legislation directly impacts providers, payers, and clearinghouses, all of which are referred to as covered entities. The most recently published privacy rules legislates the circumstances protected health information can be disseminated from covered entities. SPARCS depends on our relationship with providers to collect data. These privacy rules recognize the importance of data used for "public good". In support of that concept all versions of the privacy rule to date have included dissemination exceptions which include data submitted to SPARCS. These privacy regulations are currently being reviewed by the Bush Administration, but we anticipate the "public good" concept to be included in all future iterations of the law. Dissemination of data from SPARCS is already tightly controlled by Department of Health regulations, which has been the case since the inception of SPARCS system in the late 1970s. The important message is that the HIPAA legislation does not change the current relationship SPARCS has with New York State providers.

Proposed Emergency Department Legislation

The Assembly and the Senate have each introduced legislation that would authorize SPARCS to collect Emergency Department data from New York State hospitals regulated by the Department of Health. If this legislation is enacted, the Department would have to promulgate regulations to specify the implementation details. It is the intent of the Department to seek advice from interested industry representatives during the regulation development phase. Anyone interested in participating in the process should contact the SPARCS Administrative Unit.

SPARCS Edit Issues

The SPARCS edits have been modified to accept new discharge status codes: 61, 71, and 72. Definitions of these codes can be found in Appendix C (www.health.state.ny.us/statistics/sparcs/sysdoc/appc.htm), which is available on our Web site. These codes were approved by the National Uniform Billing Committee (NUBC) and have an effective date of April 1, 2001. These codes were originally approved by request of the Medicare program, which recently announced a delay in their implementation until October 1, 2001. The SPARCS edits reflect the national code lists maintained by the NUBC, and in this case the effective date will remain April 1, 2001.