Information Bulletin, February 1999


Countdown to the Millennium
Edit Change
Audit Report Enhancements
Standards Initiatives
1997 SPARCS Annual Report
Web Site Additions

Countdown to the Millennium

During the month of January we received 5 percent of inpatient submissions and 3 percent of outpatient submissions in the millennium-ready UDS Version 5 format. With eleven months left before year 2000, we encourage all providers to migrate to this transmission standard as soon as possible.

The HCNAPPS software designed for data entry and error correction developed by SPARCS is currently being updated to be millennium compliant. We expect this software will be available for use by early April of this year.To avoid confusion with the existing non-millennium compliant software, the new release will be called SPARCS5. The availability of this software will be announced in a future bulletin and will be available for download on the SPARCS Web site at that time.

The current PCMAIL software, which is not millennium compliant and is used to transmit encrypted data between the Department and providers, will be replaced with a Web-based process. We expect beta testing for this process to begin in early April. Any provider or vendor interested in participating in the beta test should contact the SPARCS Administrative Unit.

Edit Change

To accommodate an increasing number of temporary physician license numbers being assigned by the Department of Education for doctors to practice in underserved areas in the state, SPARCS has increased the acceptable upper limit of the range for these license numbers from 00000700 to 00001500.

Audit Report Enhancements

Within the next few months the inpatient and outpatient audit reports currently posted on the SPARCS Web site will have two new columns of information added. Currently, these reports list the count of records on the master file by discharge month and the last date a record was edited for the facility. The two new columns will list the counts of unresolved errors and exception records, which is intended to help users determine whether data shortfalls are due to underreporting or not correcting data.

An UNRESOLVED ERROR record is one that has failed the inbound edits and a successful resubmission has not occurred. This assumes that the original submission and the resubmission use identical identifying criteria (pfi, patient control number, medical record number, admit date, and discharge date).

An UNRESOLVED EXCEPTION record is one that passed the inbound edits, but could not be placed on the master file. There are three causes for this situation: duplicate submissions, unmatched correction records (bill type xx7), or unmatched deletion records (bill type xx8). The latter occur when a record is submitted as a correction or deletion but we have no corresponding orginal record on the master file.

Standards Initiative

In this calendar year the final rule for many of the administrative simplification provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) legislation will most likely be published. Those standards will then become the law of the land sometime in late 2001 or early 2002. A lesson learned from the UDS experience is that it will be in everybody's best interest for SPARCS to comply with those standards.

To make that possible without compromising vital Departmental needs, SPARCS continues to work closely with other public health data associations and national standards development organizations to ensure our requirements are consistent with and accommodated by the HIPAA mandated standards. SPARCS stands by its commitment to standards as a means to achieve administrative simplification in New York State. We look forward to continued cooperation from the health care community as we strive together to achieve this goal through the ongoing work of the Universal Data Set for Institutional Providers Task Force. The next meeting of the task force is scheduled for Tuesday, April 6, 1999.

1997 SPARCS Annual Report

We are pleased to announce that the 1997 SPARCS Annual Report will be posted to our Web site in early March (see below). A hard copy will be distributed soon to administrators at each hospital across the state. We are hopeful that with continued cooperation during this calendar year the 1998 Annual Report Series will be available even sooner next year.

Users of the SPARCS Annual Report should note an important enhancement that started with the 1996 report. A list of facilities with verified data shortfalls is included to facilitate accurate interpretation of the data presented.

We encourage suggestions on ways to continue making discharge data more useful and relevant as we work together to improve the timeliness and quality of SPARCS data. Anyone not having Internet access may request copies of the 1980-1997 reports either in hard copy or on diskette by contacting the SPARCS Administration Unit.

Web Site Additions

Data Quality Initiatives: Here you will find information regarding our objective to improve the quality and quantity of data received by using national standards and effective communication. This enhancement details the current processes to monitor the quality of data submitted to SPARCS. Our mission is to assist facilities in achieving a data profile that comprehensively and accurately reflects the health care services provided at each hospital.

1997 SPARCS Annual Report: In early March the entire report will be posted on our Web site together with the complete 1995 and 1996 reports. In addition, downloads of the 1995-1997 Annual Reports in WordPerfect format will be available on the page entitled "Software/Documentation Downloads".

We encourage use of our Web site to obtain the most current information about SPARCS and welcome suggestions for future enhancements.