Health Care By The Numbers Curriculum / Student Project Guide

How to approach creating your clinical question:

Make sure your question is testable by the data present in SPARCS. Some examples from previous students that are answerable with SPARCS: If you want to look at the data, use the SPARCS tools to filter your data by a given diagnosis/procedure and download it. There are two data download options you will see on our SPARCS site:

Frequently Asked Questions

What permission do we need to use these data in a presentation or publication?

The SPARCS data are under the open government public use license and made available through the Open NY initiative which poses no limitations “over its end use" though they do require attribution to the NYS DOH. The full license is here. Relevant portion: "Unless otherwise noted on an individual document, file, web page or other item, the Department of Health grants users permission to reproduce materials published by the Department on this Website so long as the Department of Health is noted as the source, and the data the web page was accessed, along with the date of publication of the material cited, is noted. " The Hospital compare data are under a similar open license. Relevant portion: "Works of the U.S. Government are in the public domain and permission is not required to reuse them."

How do the data on this site differ from the raw SPARCS data available on

We have made some changes to these data to make them easier to use for medical students. Remember that you can always get the original raw data from the DOH site. Our changes include:

Looking for more open clinical data sets for your projects?

We list more here.

What are the zip codes used in SPARCS?

SPARCS only includes the first three digits of the patient's zip code. Its left blank if the population size for that area is less than 20,000. “OOS” are Out of State zip codes.

What are the diagnosis and procedure codes used in SPARCS?

SPARCS includes two types of diagnostic codes: DRGs and CCS. For the sake of simplicity, we only include the DRG when viewing the data via this website - however the underlying raw data and exports from this site also include the full CCS data.
Wikipedia article on APR-DRG Classification Codes.
More information on the AHRQ Clinical Classification Software (CCS) Code.