Information Bulletin, August 2010

Contact us at:

Phone: (518) 473- 8144

SPARCS goes weekly for Master File Updates
Change in Timeframe for SPARCS Output Files
SPARCS Stoplight Report
Payer Comparison Information on Performance Metric

SPARCS goes weekly for Master File Updates

Health care facilities will be glad to hear that the monthly upload cycle for the SPARCS Master File is gone. Beginning August 10, 2010 the current and prior year's discharges/visits submitted to SPARCS will be processed each Tuesday at 7am.

Facilities will receive the same submission review information that they had in the past but instead of receiving information monthly, the information will be available weekly. Specifically, the following information will be updated weekly:

  • Audit Reports on the Health Commerce System (HCS) website and department's public website
  • Update Summary Reports on the HCS and public website
  • Exception file on the HCS
  • Submission History Reports available via the Report Request tool on the HCS
  • Exception Summary and Detail Report via the Report Request tool on the HCS

Facilities will also be glad to hear that there is no change in the reporting requirements. Facilities are still expected to submit on a 60-day cycle. In essence, during the annual reconciliation process, facilities will have a few extra days to submit their prior year's data. The new weekly update cycle will result in the following dates for the annual reconciliation process for 2010 data:

  • First notification: e-mail following April 5, 2011 full update to SPARCS Master File
  • Second notification: letter (yellow) to SPARC Coordinator, copy to CEO following June 7, 2011 update
  • Third notification: certified letter (orange) to CEO, copy to SPARCS Coordinator following July 5, 2011 update

There are a few production tasks that will remain on a monthly schedule:

  • Submission Compliance Reports
  • Annual Report Generator (ARG) under Data Queries
  • SPARCS Output Files for Inpatient and Outpatient Data

Change in Timeframe for SPARCS Output Files

Q:  Does the change to a weekly upload of the SPARCS Master File affect the availability of the monthly file for users?

A:  Yes. The first Tuesday following a complete month will initiate the new cycle for SPARCS monthly Output Files created by the Department of Health. In other words, the first Tuesday of the month at 7am begins the full production cycle for updating the SPARCS Master File and creating the Output Files. For example, September 7, 2010 will be the first full cycle under the new processing timeframe (previously the production cycle would have started September 1st). For additional information on any SPARCS Output Files you may contact the Data Access Unit at (518) 474-3189 or by e-mail at:

SPARCS Stoplight Report

To address specific data quality issues, a Stoplight Report has been created to assist facilities in identifying problem areas with specific data elements reported to SPARCS. The report simply uses red (failed criteria) or green (passed criteria) to identify the problem area. The criteria are different for each specific data element. The Stoplight Report reviews the specific data elements on a variety of frequencies: monthly, semi-annual and annual. Each of these frequency sections focuses on different data elements:

  • Potential Duplicates
  • Physician License
  • Unique Personal Identifier

Semi-annual (Inpatient only):
  • Present on Admission (POA) Criteria 1
  • Present on Admission (POA) Criteria 2
  • Present on Admission (POA) Criteria 3

Annual (Inpatient only):
  • SPARCS-ICR Comparison to Inpatient Discharges
  • SPARCS-ICR Comparison to Inpatient Days

The report is located on the HCS under the SPARCS Performance Metric and Quality Report Section. The Stoplight Report will be updated monthly. The specific data elements may change in the future depending upon the needed improvement in data quality.

Payer Comparison Information on Performance Metric

The Department of Health will be emphasizing the quality of the payer information reported by facilities to SPARCS and the Institutional Cost Report (ICR). SPARCS currently collects three payer data fields: Expected Principal Reimbursement (I, II), Claim Filing Indicator (CFI) (up to six values) and the Source of Payment Typology (SoP) (I, II, III). As a start, there are two summary reports available under the SPARCS Performance Metric section and a data file located under the HCS SPARCS Quality section (for inpatient facilities only) to use to improve their payer reporting.

The first summary report focuses on the newest payer data element, SoP. This report compares the Source of Payment Typology (SoP) and Claim Filing Indicator (CFI). The report is called SoPCFI&yr on the HCS. The complementing data file for this report is called the Source of Payment Individual (SoPINDpfi#). It contains the record level detail for those cases that did not contain a legitimate Source of Payment value. In the summary report example below, there are 10 records that did not have the Source of Payment Typology I reported while the facility reported a value of Medicaid for the CFI payer data element for those same 10 records. In other words, one payer data element was reported, but the other was not. The detail of those 10 records will be in the data file on the HCS secure system under the quality section (upload permission required) to assist facilities in identifying the records that need a SoP value added to the record. All inpatient facilities must report SoP for all 2010 discharges. This report and data file should be used by inpatient facilities to comply with this requirement.

Hospital XYZ
Sample Report SoPCFI09
Claim Filing Indicator I Reported Source of Payment Typology I Total
Blue Cross Blue Cross/Blue Shield 140
Medicaid Family Health Plus 30
Medicaid HMO 99
NoSoP 10

The second summary report compares the payer values reported on the Claim Filing Indicator to those reported on the ICR. This report is also only available for inpatient facilities. This report is called: Pay_Yr_IP. It is also located on the SPARCS Performance Metric section of the HCS. Historically, facilities were within three percent of the total discharges and days reported on the SPARCS (CFI) and ICR. However, the introduction of the payer dimension to the comparison of SPARCS and the ICR indicates that attention must be given to the payer fields in both the SPARCS and ICR reporting. Inpatient facilities should review this report to assure their SPARCS and ICR information is accurate.

In the future, additional payer comparison reports will become available for emergency department and ambulatory care data. If you have any questions on this payer information, please call or e-mail the SPARCS Administrative Unit. The contact information is listed at the top of the Bulletin.