Information Bulletin, July 1999


Countdown To the Millennium
Internet Upload
SPARCS Changes
Data Issue
Web Site News
SPARCS Retirement

Countdown To the Millennium

SPARCS currently receives about 19% of its submissions in the millennium compliant Version 5 format. This is a considerable improvement from last month and providers are to be congratulated for this progress toward year 2000 compliance. We are hopeful that all facilities across the state will encounter little or no difficulty with our December 31, 1999 deadline for processing only millennium compliant submission formats. We encourage all providers still submitting Version 4 to start testing at your earliest convenience. The entire SPARCS staff is anxious to help you with any problems you may be encountering on the road to Year 2000 compliance.

As previously announced, the newest release of the DOS-based PC application available from SPARCS for correcting and submitting data, SPARCS5, can now be downloaded from our Web site or requested directly from the SPARCS Administrative staff. It should be noted that SPARCS5 edits and creates only Version 5 millennium-ready files.

Internet Upload

We are delighted to announce that the Internet Upload process is now being beta tested. This process will use the Health Provider Network (HPN) as the data transmission vehicle. The process being developed will use standard Internet security and windows file control protocols. We encourage any individuals that already have HPN access and authority to contact the SPARCS Administrative Unit if you wish to participate in the beta test.

Since the Internet Upload will replace the existing PCMAIL as a data transmission vehicle, we recommend all facilities inventory their current software and hardware configurations to ensure that Internet and Windows technologies will support the upload process. It should also be noted that since Internet encryption protocols are used, a higher level of the browser software will be required.

SPARCS Changes

Effective later this summer, the SPARCS edit for procedure dates will change to allow these dates to occur up to, but not more than, three (3) days prior to the admission date. This was done to reconcile SPARCS edits with current payer requirements. The exact effective date will be announced in a future bulletin article.

Effective October 1, 1999, three new ancillary codes may be reported in the All Inclusive Ancillary category: Comprehensive (241), Specialty (242), and Specialty (243).

Effective for all discharges after December 31, 1999, the SPARCS accommodation code currently reported will no longer be required. The UB-92 accommodation code will be reported instead. All edits associated with the reporting of accommodations will now reference the reported UB-92 revenue codes.

The newly updated SPARCS documentation reflecting these changes is now available to be downloaded or queried on the SPARCS Web site. A letter announcing these changes has also been mailed to all facilities required to report to SPARCS.

Data Issue

SPARCS routinely calculates Federal and All Patient DRGs as part of its master file creation process. Based on input from our user community, SPARCS will recalculate the DRGs in several fields on the inpatient master files where the grouper data is inconsistent with the discharge date of the record being grouped. Groupers are defined for a set time period with a specific set of ICD9 codes. Outside of that time period ICD9 codes can be different. A program, called a mapper, is now available to convert ICD9 codes from one time period to another. This conversion program will now be used for all the DRG fields prior to calculating DRGs.

All DRGs on the SPARCS files are calculated based on the calendar year, which is consistent with the state all-patient grouper. It should be noted that the federal grouper is based on the federal fiscal year, October 1 - September 30. Users of the federal DRG fields on SPARCS files should be aware of this time period discrepancy.

Web Site News

As part of our continued commitment to better serve our provider and user communities, we are restructuring our home page. We think our new page will make it easier to navigate the SPARCS Web site. We expect this change to occur about by the end of July. Please visit our Web site and do not hesitate to send us any comments or suggestions.

SPARCS Retirement

After 17 years of loyal serve to SPARCS, Gene Ellis is retiring. In his years of dedicated service Gene has cultivated many wonderful relationships with the healthcare community. Among his many accomplishments, the creation of these bulletins is reflective of Gene's commitment to making SPARCS the "best it can be" through better communications with the user and provider communities. We wish Gene well in his retirement, and we extend to him our heartiest thank you for a job well done.