Information Bulletin, October 1999


Countdown To The Millennium
Internet Upload
System and Edit Changes
Web Site News

Countdown To The Millennium

SPARCS currently receives just under 50% of its submissions in the millennium compliant Version 5 format. This again is a considerable improvement from earlier this summer and providers are to be congratulated for the steady progress toward Year 2000 compliance. We continue to be 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 contact the SPARCS Administrative Staff to provide assistance getting all data submissions ready for Year 2000 processing requirements.

Internet Upload

We are very pleased to announce that the Internet Upload process is now available. This is a long awaited replacement for PCMAIL that will provide a secure environment to electronically submit required SPARCS data. We apologize for the problems many of you have encountered with PCMAIL over the past few months, but we are confident that the Internet Upload process will be a more user friendly and reliable vehicle for electronically submitting data to SPARCS.

To use the Internet Upload you will not need to install any DOH developed software. This process uses standard Internet technologies, which means you will need access to the Internet and a browser (Internet Explorer or Netscape) that supports 128 bit encryption. The security is built into the Secured Socket Layer (SSL) of the Health Provider Network (HPN). If you don't already have an HPN account, please contact the SPARCS Administrative Unit. Be the first on your block to use the Internet Upload to electronically submit data to SPARCS. The process starts with getting an HPN account. For a detailed description of the process and requirements, visit www.health.state.ny.us/statistics/sparcs/operations/upload.htm.

You should note that the soon to be adopted Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) standards are developed to be transmitted electronically. The Internet Upload will provide the necessary connectivity between providers and the Department for transmitting the HIPAA compliant transactions, which will be the next significant change to the SPARCS system.

System and Edit Changes

In support of the electronic data submissions using a standards-based environment, the SPARCS system will now require the use of a new data element for electronic submissions. The TEST/PRODUCTION Indicator in Record Type 01, positions 143-146, will be necessary to determine how incoming electronic submissions will be processed by the SPARCS system. It should be noted that the TEST/PRODUCTION Indicator is a nationally defined data element on both Version 4 and 5 formats. This change is documented in the body of the SPARCS Documentation and takes effect immediately.

We have been directed by the New York State Education Department, which issues state license numbers for physicians in the state, to increase the valid range from 00010000-00215000 to 00010000-0022500. This change is documented in Appendix J of the SPARCS Documentation and takes effect immediately.

Web Site News

Finding information on the DOH web site is now easier than ever, thanks to a newly installed "Search Engine" that will enable Internet users to type in a few keywords or phrases starting August 2, 1999. To look for materials on SPARCS, for example, simply click on the "Search" button and type in "SPARCS" then hit either the SEARCH key or the ENTER key. The Health Department's entire web site will be quickly searched for documents containing the word "SPARCS", ranked so that the most relevant documents are presented first. Such a query would retrieve several relevant items about the SPARCS system.

The SPARCS Web pages have been updated to provide access and support for the Internet Upload. The changes to the documentation to reflect the system and edit change described above have also been posted on our Web site. We encourage everyone to visit our Web site. We welcome any comments or suggestions.