Information Bulletin, December 2001

Submission Issues
Data Quality Issues
Legislative Issues
Holiday Greetings

Submission Issues

Once again a giant thank you is in order to all reporting facilities for their cooperation during calendar year 2001. Once again the successful submission rate to SPARCS is above 98 percent. Each year we have a goal to produce our annual report for the previous year within 6 months of the June due date. I am happy to report that our year 2000 annual report is currently being created and will be available soon.

Agencies concerned about setting up baseline data in regards to the September 11, 2001 tragedy have called to ask about the currency of the SPARCS database. This is an indication that the users of SPARCS data will be depending on all facilities to be as current and accurate as possible in their data submissions. SPARCS hopes that facilities will keep this in mind when submitting data. You can see the current status of your inpatient and outpatient master file submissions by visiting the SPARCS web site.

The updated SPARC5 application is now available on our web site. Below is a summary of the changes:

  • IMPORT DATA FILE - The Import function has been enhanced to allow the import of UDS Version 6 formatted files. However, SPARCS5 software only supports 2 character Sequence Numbers. In Version 6 formatted files the Sequence Number data element was increased from 2 to 3 characters in record types 50, 60 and 61. Records containing sequences above 99 will not be imported.

  • RECORD TYPE 60 - ANCILLARY REVENUE CODE. The following three codes have been added to the pop-up CHOICES listing:

  • RECORD TYPE 80 - PHYSICIAN LICENSE NUMBER. The edit on this field has been modified as follows:
    00000001 - 00300000
    30000001 - 30099999


  • The SPARCS Hospital Database has been updated to include additional facilities and facility name changes.

  • It should be noted that the file exported will continue to be a Version 5 formatted file.
Data Quality Issues

A gift for the holidays!! A new option has been added to the "Submission Results" HPN application, "Miscellaneous Reports", which affords us the opportunity to provide you with additional information about the data you sent to SPARCS as well as make it easier for you to receive requested data files. Retrieval of requested detailed history reports or list of records on the master files can be easily accomplished by a simple click of your mouse button. A Health Provider Network account is a prerequisite for using your gift. If you don't already have an HPN account, you can contact the SPARCS Administrative Unit to start that process.

One of the roles of SPARCS is to look for possible problems in the data, i.e. "see if the data makes sense," before the data is in widespread use. Summary tables displaying the range of your facility's reported values for a field and a description of the tables can now also be sent via the HPN.

For example, there are many possible values for the Expected Principal Reimbursement field. The mix of values will be different for each facility, but if ALL the values are the same, that indicates a problem for that facility. SPARCS can detect that. By sending you the distribution of values SPARCS has for your facility, you can determine whether the mix for your facility is valid. Providers can now expect to view and download these reports from our secure HPN application.

Questions about any of the above mentioned reports should be directed to the SPARCS Administrative Unit.

Legislative Issues

In early September Governor Pataki signed legislation that mandates the collection of Emergency Department data by SPARCS. The legislation provides a 2-year implementation window. The Department is currently in the process of drafting Emergency Department data specifications along with justifications for each data element to be included in the proposal. The Department will be soliciting industry comment in the early part of 2002 before final development decisions are made. Those on the Universal Data Set for Institutional Providers (UDS/IP) electronic or hardcopy distribution lists will be notified of the time and place of the meeting. A draft of proposed data specifications will also be distributed. Anyone wanting to be included in this dialog, but not on either of these distribution lists should contact the SPARCS Administrative Unit.

In calendar year 2003, we are planning to start making necessary changes to the inpatient and ambulatory surgery data collection systems to class those systems with anticipated changes the following year for the Emergency Department data collection requirement.

Many of you may have heard that the US Senate and the US House of Representatives passed bills that would delay one year the implementation of the HIPAA Transactions and Codes final rule. Differences in the two bills have been reconciled and now await the President's signature to become law. As you know the SPARCS system is not considered a HIPAA covered entity and therefore not mandated by the federal legislation, but we remain committed to support the submission of data to SPARCS in a HIPAA compatible 837 format. The effect of the delay legislation on the SPARCS system will depend on the ability of provider systems to submit their required SPARCS data in that compatible 837 format.

Holiday Greetings

The entire SPARCS staff would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season. We have all been through a lot together this year and hope that we can continue to draw strength from each other as we all prepare for the challenges that are in our near and far future.