Monday, May 12, 2014

Medical Procedure Data: Examining Surgical and Procedural Data for Counties In NYS

Have you ever been faced with a medical procedure or operation and wondered about the number of cases similar to yours that have been performed locally? Or who else has had that type procedure, and how they have paid for it? 

Medical data is sometimes difficult to come by. With Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protecting our privacy, data is often closely guarded. However, there is a way to look at classifications of procedures done in your county and get a considerable amount of data about them.The key is using the New York State Health Department's Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS). 

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.

Let’s say, for example, you were facing hip replacement surgery and wondered about the number of cases and the characteristics of patients in Oneida County who have had this type of medical procedure.  By going to the SPARCS homepage, and then accessing the “Health Data Query System” you can begin examining these patients and hip replacement experiences in Oneida County.

After getting to the query page and reading the use policy statement, you then would need to select the type of data base (or “system” you want to look at – in this case, the “Inpatient” system.

 There are then three boxes you need to use to narrow down your search: Inpatient Type of Report (for our purposes select the “Clinical Classification Procedure Category), the Year for which you want data (in this case the most recent year is 2010, so that’s the best choice), and the Area for which you want the data (in our case County). 

 You will then be given the opportunity to specific what you want to see exactly. Under the Clinical Classification Category select “Hip Replacements Total and Partial”, in the Report By box select “Total Patients”, and under County select “Oneida”.

 The result shows that there were 374 hip replacements done in Oneida County last year, with an average length of stay of 4.46 days in the facility. The average cost was roughly $29,500 in each case.
By hitting the back button and selecting Source of Payment instead of Total Patients, you can also find out that roughly 60% of all cases were handled by Medicare, with 16% being covered by personal insurance and another 15% being paid by the patient themselves. 

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Obviously going back you can also take a look at the race, sex and ethnic breakdowns of these patients, as well as their ages and their discharge dispositions.

The NYS Health Department also has a system for reviewing Hospital Profiles as well. Visit their New York State Hospital Profiles page to find out more about the facility you might be using.