Information Bulletin, December 2004


New Director of SPARCS Administrative Unit
2002 Annual Report
Emergency Department Data Collection
HPN accounts and Development
Data Completeness
Seasons Greetings

New Director of SPARCS Administrative Unit

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Laura K. Dellehunt to the position of Director of the SPARCS Administrative Unit, within the Bureau of Biometrics & Health Statistics. Laura had worked with CIGNA (Hartford, CT) before joining the Department of Health in 1985. Within the Department, she has held a variety of positions that incorporate her research, programming and administrative skills. Most recently, Laura left the Office of Managed Care, were she developed and supervised the Health Provider Network (HPN) application to collect Provider Network Data from all the Managed Care Plans in New York State. Laura brings a new focus to SPARCS. The initial areas of concentration will be the use of the HPN, the development of quality reports to assist facilities with their SPARCS submissions, and improving SPARCS reporting.

2002 Annual Report

We are pleased to announce that the 2002 SPARCS Annual Report is now available for download from our Web site:   http://www.health.state.ny.us/statistics/sparcs/download.htm. The hardcopy of the report is currently being printed and will soon be mailed to all hospital administrators. The report narrative contains a list of facilities with "Reporting Completeness Issues". This includes reporting details on changes in facility submission circumstances that have resulted in reduced data submissions. The purpose of this list is to ensure that the data is interpreted accurately by data users. Once again we thank facilities for their cooperation in submitting timely and accurate data to SPARCS.

Emergency Department Data Collection

The laws of 2001 added Section 2816 to the Public Health Law and established in statute the collection of emergency department service data through SPARCS. Section 400.18 of Title 10 NYCRR details the amended regulation; these regulations were adopted by the State Hospital Review and Planning Council on December 2, 2004. This means that all hospitals providing emergency department services are required to submit data for all emergency department visits discharged on or after January 1, 2005. Regulation requires submission of emergency department data within 30 days following the month of patient discharge. We thank those 120 plus facilities that have been voluntarily reporting emergency department data in 2003/2004. SPARCS administrative staff is available to those facilities needing assistance in their submission of data. The required emergency department data elements are in the SPARCS Documentation, which can be found on the SPARCS Web site.

HPN Accounts and Development

The Health Provider Network, more commonly referred to as the "HPN", is one of the Department's secure, limited access portals devoted to communicating with, and receiving information from, health care providers. Many hospitals submit their SPARCS data electronically using the HPN and receive the resulting edit reports and error files within hours. All providers with SPARCS HPN access will receive audit and summary reports from the monthly SPARCS Master File updates. The SPARCS HPN application also provides a utility that allows users to retrieve reports dating back to 1994. These include:

  • Edit Reports by Log Number
  • Error Records by Log Number
  • Audit Reports by Year
  • Hospital Own Data by Year/Month
  • Listing of Records on Master File for Year, Month(s)
  • Submission History Reports by Year, Month(s)
  • Update Summary Reports by Year

This SPARCS HPN reporting system has recently been modified to allow those who submit magnetic tapes or cartridges to receive their edit reports back electronically instead of by mail. Please contact the SPARCS Administrative Unit if you wish to receive your reports through the HPN. Reports will be available through the HPN for a period of 30 days after submission.

Our plan is to eventually discontinue mailing the SPARCS submission results, and send all reports to facilities via the HPN. We are asking facilities to try this new HPN Report feature during the testing period and to provide us with comments and suggestions on how to improve the reporting system.

If you already have an HPN account and have SPARCS access, you may contact the SPARCS Unit to have the new HPN report feature activated for your facility. If you do not have an HPN account, we are requiring that your facility obtain an HPN account by contacting the SPARCS unit. You may contact the SPARCS Unit at sparcs@health.state.ny.us or by phone at (518) 473-8144.

We are optimistic that the use of the HPN and this revised reporting system will improve the accuracy, completeness, timeliness and quality of the SPARCS patient data.

Data Completeness

Many researchers and users of the SPARCS data ask: "How many discharge records should each facility have?" The answer is based on SPARCS staff review of each facility's data completeness; we use two mechanisms to determine the data completeness for each facility. The first mechanism is simply a month-to-month comparison of the facility's prior year SPARCS submission. The second mechanism is a comparison of the total annual reported SPARCS discharge and patient days to the total number of discharges and patient days submitted in the Institutional Cost Report (ICR) (a fiscal report required of hospitals by the Bureau of Primary and Acute Care Reimbursement).

The comparison of 2003 SPARCS inpatient data to 2002 SPARCS inpatient data has been completed. Once again hospitals and vendors should be congratulated for another successful year of data submissions. For data received through the month of November 2004, approximately 99% of projected 2003 SPARCS inpatient data has been received into the SPARCS master file.

In comparing the inpatient SPARCS total counts to the ICR numbers, SPARCS has 95.0% of the expected records for 2003.

While the SPARCS inpatient data for 2003 is 95-99% complete, there are some facilities that currently have data shortfalls. Facilities identified with data shortfalls are being contacted by SPARCS staff. Should you have any questions concerning the status of your 2003 data, please do not hesitate to contact the SPARCS Administrative Unit. Just as a reminder, the status of your inpatient, outpatient, and now emergency department, submissions are available on the Audit and Submission History Report page on our public Web site.

Seasons Greetings

The SPARCS staff would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you and your families a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with good health and happiness.