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Overview of HCUP
The HCUP (pronounced "H-CUP") family of health care databases and related software tools and products is made possible by a Federal-State-Industry partnership sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
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The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP, pronounced "H-Cup") is a family of health care databases and related software tools and products developed through a Federal-State-Industry partnership and sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). HCUP databases bring together the data collection efforts of State data organizations, hospital associations, private data organizations, and the Federal government to create a national information resource of patient-level health care data (HCUP Partners). HCUP includes the largest collection of longitudinal hospital care data in the United States, with all-payer, encounter-level information beginning in 1988. These databases enable research on a broad range of health policy issues, including cost and quality of health services, medical practice patterns, access to health care programs, and outcomes of treatments at the national, State, and local market levels.

HCUP's objectives are to:
  • Create and enhance a powerful source of national, state, and all-payer health care data.
  • Produce a broad set of software tools and products to facilitate the use of HCUP and other administrative data.
  • Enrich a collaborative partnership with statewide data organizations aimed at increasing the quality and use of health care data.
  • Conduct and translate research to inform decision making and improve health care delivery.
HCUP Fact Sheet
A printable copy of the HCUP Fact Sheet is available in HTML.
HCUP Databases
provide data beginning in 1988 and contain encounter-level information for all payers compiled in a uniform format with privacy protections in place.

HCUP databases include:

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) with inpatient data from a national sample of over 1,000 hospitals.

The Kids' Inpatient Database (KID) is a nationwide sample of pediatric inpatient discharges.

The Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) is a database that yields national estimates of emergency department (ED) visits.

The State Inpatient Databases (SID) contain the universe of inpatient discharge abstracts from participating states.

The State Ambulatory Surgery Databases (SASD) contain data from ambulatory care encounters from hospital-affiliated and sometimes freestanding ambulatory surgery sites.

The State Emergency Department Databases (SEDD) contain data from hospital-affiliated emergency departments for visits that do not result in hospitalizations.

Many of the HCUP databases are available for purchase through the HCUP Central Distributor.
  • NIS (starting in 1988)
  • KID (starting in 1997)
  • NEDS (starting in 2006)
  • SID (starting in 1995)
  • SASD (starting in 1997)
  • SEDD (starting in 1999)
HCUP Tools and Software
The HCUP databases have been a powerful resource for the development of tools that can be applied to other similar databases by health services researchers and decision makers.

HCUPnet is a free, on-line query system based on data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). It provides access to health statistics and information on hospital inpatient and emergency department utilization.

The AHRQ Quality Indicators (QIs) are measures of health care quality that make use of readily available hospital inpatient administrative data. The AHRQ QIs consist of three modules measuring various aspects of quality. Software and user guides for all three modules are available to assist users in applying the Quality Indicators to their own data.

The Clinical Classifications Software (CCS), was developed with HCUP data and is available for downloading. The CCS provides a method for classifying diagnoses or procedures into clinically meaningful categories, which can be used for aggregate statistical reporting of a variety of types.

Internet Citation: HCUP Overview. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). November 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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Last modified 11/12/09