SEER-Medicare: Provider Files

Researchers may want to include information in their analyses about healthcare providers (physicians or hospitals) who are treating cancer patients. Medicare claims include unique provider numbers that identify the hospitals or physicians associated with the claim. Provider numbers on the SEER-Medicare data are encrypted to protect the confidentiality of the provider but the encryption is done in a manner that allows tracking of each provider across years.

NCI Hospital File

NCI has created a Hospital File that includes information about hospitals that are part of the SEER-Medicare data. Information about these hospitals has been obtained from several sources. These sources include the Healthcare Cost ReportExternal Web Site Policy (HCRIS) and the Provider of ServiceExternal Web Site Policy (POS) survey from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The HCRIS data is created annually from reporting that CMS requires of hospitals that bill to the Medicare and Medicaid program. CMS also requires institutions to periodically complete the Provider of Service (POS) survey. NCI has extracted selected variables from the HCRIS and POS files from 1996, 1998, and 2000 – 2012 to be included in the Hospital File. It should be noted that there are differences between the HCRIS and POS files as to exact time periods and how selected variables are defined. NCI has not attempted to resolve any inconsistencies between files, but is making researchers aware of these differences. Close examination of the data may be needed. In addition to information from CMS, the NCI Hospital File includes information about whether the institution was an NCI-designated cancer center as of 2002, 2005, and 2010. There are also historic variables denoting if the hospital participated in any NCI-sponsored cooperative group trial in 2002 or 2005. The NCI Hospital file includes encrypted hospital numbers making it possible to link the NCI Hospital file to the hospital numbers found on the SEER-Medicare claims.

The hospital file will be made available without charge to investigators. Investigators must include a description of the use of the file in their proposal requesting SEER-Medicare data.

Documentation for the Hospital file is available in PDF format.

Hospital Mergers & Acquisitions

When a hospital undergoes a merger, acquisition or closure, the associated Medicare hospital provider number often changes, creating challenges for tracking providers over time. The NCI Hospital file itself contains no distinguishing identifier for researchers to link information on current and past hospital provider numbers for a facility. For longitudinally tracking of hospitals in the SEER-Medicare data, researchers are encouraged to use the Mergers and Acquisitions file maintained by NCI.

The Mergers and Acquisitions file was created from the Provider of Service (POS) files released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which collect information on previous or associated provider numbers for a hospital. The Mergers and Acquisition file contains one observation per provider number (current or previous). Along with each provider number, the file includes a linking variable (Group_id) that assigns a unique identifier to all associated provider numbers identified across all years of the hospital file, if any. If a hospital has no associated provider numbers, the Group_id variable will have a missing value for that provider. All provider numbers are encrypted in the same way as other files in the SEER-Medicare data to allow for linkage.

The Mergers and Acquisitions file will be made available without charge to investigators. Investigators must include a description of the use of the file in their proposal requesting SEER-Medicare data.

Documentation for the Mergers and Acquisitions file is available in PDF format.

NPI-UPIN Physician Crosswalk File for the SEER-Medicare Data

In 2007, CMS adopted a new physician identification system, changing from the Unique Physician Identification Number (UPIN) to the National Provider Identifier (NPI). In order to track physicians in the SEER-Medicare data across time, Dr. Helen Parsons from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, in collaboration with staff from NCI and IMS, created a file to crosswalk a physician's NPI to his/her UPIN.

To create the crosswalk, all NPIs on the SEER-Medicare physician (carrier) claims in 2007 – 2008 were identified. During this period, physicians were required to submit claims to Medicare using their NPI; however many claim also included a UPIN for the physician in addition to the NPI. Using information from the claims, the NPI and UPIN Directories and physician name matching, NPIs were matched to UPINs with an overall 90.1% match rate. Of the unique 470,313 NPIs identified in the claims, 423,912 were assigned a unique UPIN.

All physician identifiers on the SEER-Medicare data are encrypted in order to protect the privacy of the physicians. The same encryption is used for the NPI-UPIN crosswalk file. This will allow researchers to link the NPI-UPIN crosswalk file to the SEER-Medicare claims. This crosswalk file is made available without charge to SEER-Medicare researchers who need to track physicians over the time period when NPIs were implemented. Please contact Elaine Yanisko at IMS for more details of how the crosswalk was created or to obtain a copy of the crosswalk file.

Other Sources of Information about Hospitals & Physicians

In addition to the NCI Hospital File, information about hospitals can be obtained from the American Hospital Association (AHA) hospital surveyExternal Web Site Policy. Information about physicians can be obtained from the American Medical Association. Linking to these data sources is done through the provider number on the Medicare claims. Details of how to link to the AHA or AMA data or obtain unencrypted hospital numbers can be found at SEER-Medicare Encrypted Variables.