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SC Data Oversight Council

Introduction

The Data Oversight Council (hereinafter referenced as DOC) believes in a policy of access that allows the broadest possible use of information resources for consumers, purchasers, health care facilities, health care insurers and health care professionals, researchers and governmental agencies. State and federal regulations and statutes and the nature of the data necessitates that measures be taken to ensure data security and quality. This need for security and quality in health care information systems and data encompasses two fundamental goals: confidentiality and integrity. Confidentiality is the control over access to information and must assure absolute confidentiality for individual patients and appropriate confidentiality for health care facilities, insurers and professionals. The integrity of the databases means that the accuracy, reliability and timeliness of the information provided must be of the highest caliber.

MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of the DOC is to provide information to assist health care providers, consumers, insurers, elected officials and government agencies in the formulation of health policy which places South Carolina in a leadership role now and in the future by:
  • Recommending data to be collected based on constituent input
  • Controlling collection and release of data while safeguarding the privacy of patients and providing appropriate safeguards for medical care providers
  • Promoting the awareness and appropriate use of health care data and information and
  • Evaluating the usefulness of the DOC process

PRINCIPLES

  1. The right to privacy is a basic right of every South Carolinian. The confidentiality of the patient shall be of the utmost concern. The release or re-release of data, in raw or aggregate form, that can be reasonably expected to reveal the identity of an individual patient will be made only when a mandate has been established by statutory law.
  2. The policy of the DOC shall be to make determinations on requests for information in favor of access, subject to the specific limitations concerning use, confidentiality, security and accuracy.
  3. The DOC believes that through the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, Health and Demographics (hereinafter referenced as RFA), educational programs should be designed and implemented to make its information understandable and usable to purchasers, facilities, government agencies and the general public. This information will assist consumers in making informed health care decisions. The RFA will also provide additional information to government agencies and facilities to assist them in making health care policy.

DATA RELEASE PROTOCOL

Data Elements Required to be Reported

The DOC under Section 44-6-170 has the authority to designate the data elements to be reported by all health care providers. The following health care providers are required to report to the RFA:
  • General acute care hospitals
  • Specialized hospitals including, but not limited to,
    • Psychiatric hospitals
    • Alcohol and substance abuse hospitals
    • Rehabilitation hospitals
  • Hospital-based and freestanding surgical facilities as defined in Section 44-7-130
  • Hospital emergency departments licensed under Chapter 7, Article 3
  • Licensed home health care agencies
  • Any health care facility which provides on an outpatient basis observation services, radiation therapy, cardiac catherizations, lithotripsy, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission therapy and other providers offering services using equipment requiring Certificate of Need
The DOC, to the extent possible, will adhere to national standards developed under the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 for defining data elements to be collected and the electronic formats used to transmit the data. The DOC will seek the input of data users and affected health care providers of data as part of a periodic review process to identify data elements to be collected. The current listing of data elements required to be collected is found in appendices A through D.

Classification and Release of Data

In order to balance the principles of access and confidentiality, the DOC has devised a classification scheme for the data elements collected under the authority of Section 44-6-170 as amended, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976. This classification scheme aims to promote the use of accurate health data, provide equal treatment of data requesters and data providers, expedite the release process and encourage the release of the broadest spectrum of data elements without compromising patient confidentiality and appropriate confidentiality for health care providers, insurers and facilities. Efforts will be made to present data elements in a manner that balances the needs for public information and confidentiality. The rationale for not releasing certain variables is that these fields either alone or in conjunction with other publicly available data will or have the potential to identify a patient, health care provider, health care facility and/or health care insurer.

The data elements are classified into four categories: encounter-level, restricted, confidential and never releasable..

I.   Encounter-level: Data elements that are available for general public release subject to an application and a data use agreement.

II.  Restricted: Data elements that require approval for release through the DOC subject to an application and confidentiality contract.

III. Confidential: Data elements that will only be released if a mandate has been established by statutory law subject to verification of authority.

IV. Never releasable: Data elements that may be used for statistical linking purposes only

The current classification of data elements will be periodically reviewed. New data elements will be reviewed and classified by the DOC. Until new data elements are classified, they will be considered restricted data.
 
The DOC recognizes the importance of releasing information that meets the quality and completeness standards established by the RFA. Therefore, while databases and/or reports may be authorized for release, the RFA may release this information only after these quality and completeness standards have been met.