Information Bulletin, July 2000

Data Submissions
SPARCS 2001 Changes

Data Submissions

As a result of the excellent response from facilities working hard to comply with SPARCS data submission requirements, SPARCS has received approximately 95% of the projected 1999 data submissions. This is great news for users of SPARCS data and excellent news for the facilities that have been attempting to submit 100% of their data to SPARCS in compliance with the June 30, 2000 due date.

SPARCS staff is currently contacting those facilities experiencing problems with their 1999 SPARCS submissions to determine the nature of the problem and when they will be in compliance with their data submissions. It should be noted that SPARCS will continue to accept 1999 discharge data from facilities even though the due date has past. The problem confronting these facilities is that any analysis of their data will appear skewed in one direction or the other because their data is incomplete.

The target date for publication of the 1999 Annual Report tables is this November. We will continue the practice of publishing a list of explained and unexplained data shortfalls.

You can visit the SPARCS public web site and look at the Audit and Submission History Reports to check the status of a facility's 1999 data submissions.

SPARCS 20001 Changes

Medicare published specifications for a Version 6 flat file format to support additional data needs necessary to implement outpatient, home health, and hospice prospective payment methodologies. SPARCS will accept Version 6 flat file formats beginning in January, 2001. The SPARCS system will accept both Version 5 and Version 6 formatted files until the HIPAA mandated claim transaction standard, 837, is required.

Effective on or after January 1, 2001, the Unscheduled/Scheduled Indicator will no longer be required for any discharge year. It should be noted that for users of the SPARCS data, this field will be derived from the reported UB-92 Type and Source of Admission field and maintained on the SPARCS output files.

Effective on or after January 1, 2001, the coding for the Patient's Race field will be modified to conform with the federal Office of Management and Budget's Directive 15. This will mean the Asian or Pacific Islander category will become 2 distinct categories. A new appendix, U, maintained by the Centers for Disease Control, has been created to provide additional definition to each of the 5 general categories to assist in accurate coding of this data element.


The latest information from the Department of Health and Human Services is that the final rules for the Transactions and Codes will be published within the next month. Once that has occurred the two year implementation period will officially start. During that time SPARCS will continue a staged migration to the HIPAA mandated claims transaction set.

Step one is to class the data elements required by SPARCS to the HIPAA standard. That effort began several years ago when SPARCS migrated to the UB-92 and continues through its participation in the Public Health Data Standards Consortium, which promotes use of national data standards in discharge systems across the country.

Step two is to establish connectivity between the providers and SPARCS. That process began last November with the beginning of the Internet Upload process. Currently, about 60% of all submissions to SPARCS arrive electronically via this process. Our goal is to have all data submitted to SPARCS electronically by the end of the year, which is the intent of the HIPAA legislation.

Step three will be to adopt the EDI format mandated in the HIPAA legislation. With your help working to make steps 1 and 2 a success between now and 2002, we hope to ease the trauma of implementing the HIPAA transactions in the SPARCS system.