CHA News Article

OSHPD Announces New Process for Hospitals to Acquire Patient Encounter Datasets
Hospitals need data use agreements to receive hospital discharge, emergency department and ambulatory surgery data files

The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) has announced that, in an effort to ensure the continued protection of individual patient information, it has revised the annually released public use files (PUF) for hospital discharge, emergency department and ambulatory surgery data files. The files — widely used by hospitals, their consultants and vendors — make data about California-licensed hospitals available to any interested party, including the general public.

Despite the changes to the PUF, Assembly Bill 2876 (Chapter 434, Statutes of 2004) allows hospitals to receive HIPAA-limited safe harbor data files from OSHPD that contain data elements removed from public files. To obtain the AB 2876 files with the additional fields, hospitals must enter into a data use agreement with OSHPD. Sharing AB 2876 hospital data files with entities outside of the requesting hospital (such as external consultants) is subject to OSHPD director approval and federal laws regulating use of safe harbor data. CHA is working with OSHPD to identify ways the impact of these changes on hospitals can be minimized, both through process improvements related to how hospitals obtain these data and by providing input to OSHPD on its development of new data files and products.

The changes OSHPD has made to the files include replacing five-digit patient ZIP code with a three-digit patient ZIP code, removing several demographic and date variables, and applying stricter masking rules to avoid small data cell sizes. More details about the changes are available from the OSHPD Data Request Center.

For additional information about the OSHPD data files, including how individual hospitals can request their copies, or to share ideas for process improvements and potential new data products that OSHPD may consider developing, contact the OSHPD Healthcare Information Resource Center at or (916) 326-3802.