SPARCS Overview

The Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS) is a comprehensive data reporting system established in 1979 as a result of cooperation between the health care industry and government. Initially created to collect information on discharges from hospitals, SPARCS currently collects patient level detail on patient characteristics, diagnoses and treatments, services, and charges for every hospital discharge, ambulatory surgery patient, and emergency department admission in New York State.

The enabling legislation and regulations for SPARCS are located under Section 28.16 of the Public Health Law (PHL), Section 400.18 of Title 10 (Health) of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules, and Regulations of the State of New York (NYCRR).

In April 1983 and June 1985, the State Hospital Review and Planning Council adopted additional regulations regarding the reporting of ambulatory surgery data to the New York State Department of Health. Additional specifications for ambulatory surgery appear in Section 755.1 and Section 755.10.

The regulations require that inpatient data be submitted by all Article 28 facilities certified for inpatient and that outpatient data be submitted by all hospital-based ambulatory surgery services and all other facilities providing ambulatory surgery services. Data is to be submitted according to a designated format and schedule.

In April 1993, an ad hoc task force released a new Universal Data Set (UDS) Specification, which includes reporting codes for use with the UB-92 paper form and a new electronic format. The resulting system streamlines multiple data submission formats into a single format, removing redundant reporting requirements for hospitals and other health care facilities. The valid codes, electronic format, and acceptable data submission media are explained fully in the SPARCS Data Dictionary. The data submitted is processed and stored in the SPARCS database, which is available to the health care industry according to uses prescribed by regulation. The current SPARCS format, which represents a subset of the fields within the complete UDS specification, has been required for submitting records to SPARCS since 1994 discharges.

Recognizing the need for emergency department data, the New York State Legislature passed, and Governor Pataki signed, legislation in September 2001 mandating the collection of emergency department data through SPARCS beginning September 2003. Representatives of a broad array of Department of Health programs worked together to identify a core set of data elements that satisfy public health and health services administration information needs.

SPARCS continues to be a major management tool assisting hospitals, agencies, and health care organizations with decision making regarding financial planning and monitoring of inpatient and ambulatory surgery services and costs. In an effort to reflect what is needed by the users of this data, modifications of the required data elements and their formats occur periodically. These modifications are a direct result of the input by users of this data.

In 2004, SPARCS was placed within the Bureau of Biometrics and Health Statistics (BBHS) within the Information Systems and Health Statistics Group (ISHSG) located in the NYSDOH Division of Administration.

SPARCS data users will find a vast array of information concerning SPARCS data contained within our site. Included in this information are specifics on the data content, format, and obtaining access. Users should note the distinction between the X12-837 Input Data Dictionary and the Output Data Dictionaries. The X12-837 Input Data Dictionary is of interest to data providers. The Output Data Dictionaries are of interest to data users.