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Alaska Hospital Discharge Data


Alaska’s Hospital Discharge Data Set consists of inpatient and outpatient discharge records used for public health planning, disease and injury surveillance, trend analysis, and quality improvement activities. Data include diagnosis and procedure codes, length of stay, charges, primary pay source, and patient characteristics (age, sex, residence) for each hospital discharge. Reporting burden for facilities is minimized by relying on industry-standard Uniform Billing data and electronic transmission. 

Alaska’s system was developed in 2001, with hospitals agreeing to a voluntary participation approach. Between 2001 and 2013, DHSS provided grant funding to Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association (ASHNHA) to work with reporting hospitals. Under a Memorandum of Understanding governing data security, confidentiality, and use of the data for public health purposes, ASHNHA facilitated the reporting process and provided data to DHSS.

Alaska’s Hospital Discharge Data Set has collected outpatient discharge data from hospitals since 2001. Beginning with 2008 data, outpatient discharges were added, bringing emergency department, ambulatory surgery, and radiology data into the program. With the recent growth of free-standing ambulatory surgery centers, modifications are being made to the program to include more facilities, capturing more complete outpatient surgery data.

Alaska is one of 47 states participating in a national hospital data set through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Known as Health Care Utilization Project (H-CUP), this longitudinal hospital care dataset is used for health services research and policy analysis on the national level. Alaska began submitting data 2011.

Uses of the Hospital Discharge Data Set

Data from the Hospital Discharge Data Set are used for public health planning, community health status assessments, injury and disease surveillance. They can contribute to quality assessment and performance improvement activities, health services research, and informing policy deliberations and legislation. As a longitudinal data set, trends can be monitored over time; standardization enables comparison to national benchmarks.

Data have been used to answer questions about everything from asthma to dog bites in Alaska. Findings have been published in a number of publications covering chronic disease burden, infectious disease, and injuries.

Healthy Alaskans 2020, a collaborative effort between the State of Alaska and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, provides a framework for identifying health priorities and set goals for the Alaska. Among the 25 Leading Health Indicators for the state, indicator #22, Preventable Hospitalizations, is calculated using the Hospital Discharge Data Set. This indicator measures the rate of hospitalizations for conditions for which good outpatient care can potentially prevent the need for hospitalization or for which early intervention can prevent complications or more severe disease. More information about the indicator and the target is available on the IBIS website.

Selected publications using the Hospital Discharge Data Set:

Additional Information and Resources:

For more information, contact:

Mary McEwen, Planner IV
(907) 465-8505
FAX: (907) 465-6861