HERC: Outpatient Data
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Outpatient Data


VA Outpatient Cost Data

HERC Outpatient Average Cost Data

The HERC outpatient file estimates represent the hypothetical Medicare reimbursement average given the Current Procedure and Terminology Codes assigned to the VA visit. Estimates are adjusted so that the estimates tally to actual national VA expenditures for that type of care.

Proc Contents for HERC Inpatient Average Cost Data FY98-FY13
  FY98 FY99 FY00 FY01 FY02 FY03 FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07 FY08 FY09 FY10 FY11 FY12 FY13
Outpatient Costs X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X


Proc Contents for HERC Outpatient Average Cost Data FY14-FY19
  FY14 FY15 FY16 FY17 FY18 FY19 FY20
Outpatient Costs X X X X X X X

Data location: on VINCI (\\vhacdwsasrds01.vha.med.va.gov\HERC) or on the SAS 9.4 Grid (on the server VHACDWSASGSUB2.VHA.MED.VA.GOV at /data/prod/HERC).

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HERC Outpatient Person-Level Cost Data

Please note that HERC is no longer producing the outpatient person-level cost data.

The person-level cost datasets contain total annual costs for VA care received by each individual who used the VA health care system. Currently spanning FY98-FY13, these data allow researchers to observe the annual costs of individual patients without needing to extract and summarize stay and visit level information from numerous VA databases.

Proc Contents for HERC Outpatient Person-Level Cost Data FY98-FY08
  FY98 FY99 FY00 FY01 FY02 FY03 FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07 FY08
Person-Level Costs X X X X X X X X X X X


Proc Contents for HERC Outpatient Person-Level Cost Data FY09-FY14

  FY09 FY10 FY11 FY12 FY13 FY14
Person-Level Costs X X X X X X

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MCA Outpatient Cost National Data Extract

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses the Managerial Cost Accounting System (MCA), formerly Decision Support System (DSS), for fiscal management and to determine the cost of patient care. National Data Extracts (NDEs) have been created to facilitate access to workload and cost information. These extracts report costs of outpatient encounters provided by VA.

The OPAT (Outpatient) dataset includes outpatient costs per clinic stop per day. HERC has created a Guidebook for the MCA NDE. As we describe in the Guidebook, some care is needed to merge this dataset to the Medical SAS outpatient datasets (i.e., National Patient Care Database). This dataset excludes low cost records (see Out2).

The OUT2 dataset is similar to the Opat NDE, but it includes low cost outpatient records (those with cost greater than $-1 and less than $1, including zero-cost encounters). This dataset includes almost all of the outpatient care recording in the Medical SAS outpatient datasets (i.e., National Patient Care Database) that is not recorded in the MCA OPAT NDE.

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MCA Outpatient Cost Intermediate Product Department Data Extract

The outpatient intermediate product department (O-IPD) files provide more detailed cost information for specific types of care. Previously, MCA National Data Extracts reported costs for six broad categories -- medicine/other, laboratory, pharmacy, radiology, nursing, and surgery. These cost sub-totals were dropped from the NDE files while new IPD files were created with a richer set of cost detail. The IPD extract files are available for all fiscal years beginning in 2003.

The O-IPD (Outpatient Intermediate Product Department) dataset has one record per MCA product department (IPD) utilized within an outpatient encounter. Intermediate products represent work performed in each department and are bundled to make up the outpatient visit.

The IPD national extract files do not contain any formatting for the product department variable (IPD_NUM), so HERC has created a permanent SAS format library for the product department names for files FY 2003 through FY 2008. HERC has made this file available at the Austin Information Technology Center for use by researchers.

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VA Outpatient Utilization Data

VA National Patient Care Database (NPCD) Medical SAS Outpatient Data

Medical SAS Outpatient datasets have information on outpatient visits. They include diagnosis, procedure codes, and patient demographics.

Production of MedSAS Outpatient data using the VA National Patient Care Database (NCPD) ended October 18, 2019, and the NCPD was retired. National Data Systems (NDS) has developed replacement files using data from the Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW) starting with Fiscal Year 2019 data. These files are available in CDW in SQL format.

Visit the VHA Data Portal to learn more about MedSAS Outpatient data (VA intranet only: http://vaww.vhadataportal.med.va.gov/DataSources/MedicalSASInpatientOutpatientDataSets.aspx). More information about data availability can be found on the VIReC Webpage “Data Transition to the Corporate Data Warehouse” (VA intranet only: https://vaww.virec.research.va.gov/Data-Transition/Overview.htm).

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VA Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW) Outpatient Data

The VA corporate Data Warehouse (CDW) is a repository of national VHA data that contains comprehensive information about patient encounters with VHA, including clinical, financial, demographic, and benefit information. It is a relational database organized into a series of domains and tables within domains. These tables and domains can be connected using linking keys to form analytic datasets. Data are available from 1999-present.

The CDW Outpatient domain contains detailed information on outpatient visits, including date and location of the visit and procedure and diagnosis codes. The CDW Outpatient Domain is available on VINCI and can be accessed through DART for research projects or ePAS for operations users. More information about data access is available on the VHA Data Portal (VA intranet only: http://vaww.vhadataportal.med.va.gov/DataSources/CDW.aspx).

Learn More

  • VIReC Factbook: Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW) Outpatient 2.1 Domain (VA intranet only: (https://vaww.virec.research.va.gov/CDW/Documentation.htm)
  • VINCI Data Sources: CDW (VA intranet only: https://vaww.vinci.med.va.gov/VinciCentral/DataSources/Index)
  • VHA Data Portal: Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW) (VA intranet only: http://vaww.vhadataportal.med.va.gov/DataSources/CDW.aspx)
  • VIReC: VHA Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW) (VA intranet only: https://vaww.virec.research.va.gov/CDW/Overview.htm)

VA Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) Outpatient Data

The Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) is a common data model that allows for comparison across disparate observational data sources. The idea is to transform data into a common model with similar data dictionaries to aid analysis. VA data in OMOP do not provide additional data, but rather pull from various sources across CDW to centralize VA data with a standard vocabulary. OMOP access can be requested through DART for research projects or ePAS for operations use. See the VHA Data Portal for more information (VA intranet only: http://vaww.vhadataportal.med.va.gov/DataSources/OMOPCDWData.aspx).

CDW Outpatient Data is available on OMOP. A fill list of available OMOP domains is available on VINCI Central: https://vaww.vinci.med.va.gov/VinciCentral/DataSources/Index (VA intranet only).

VA Outpatient Community Care Data

The VA Community Care files include information on covered care provided to VA patients by contract providers under the VA Community Care Program, including care provided under the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act (VACAA; also called “Choice”, FY2015-2017) and the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act (FY2019-present). For more information visit our Community Care page.

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What are the Categories of Care (CAT Files) for the Outpatient Average Cost Dataset?

The 12 categories are:

Categories of care (CAT files) for the outpatient average cost dataset
21 Medicine
22 Dialysis
23 Ancillary
24 Rehabilitation
25 Diagnostic
27 Prosthetics
28 Surgery
29 Psychiatry
30 Substance Abuse
31 Dental
32 Adult day Health
33 Home care


Number 26 is a placeholder for Pharmacy, 99 is the category for unidentified clinic stops.

What is the nature of MCA National Data Extracts (NDEs) that contain low cost outpatient encounters?

The low cost outpatient NDE files contain information on outpatient encounters that were assigned low cost by MCA. "Low cost" MCA data refer to those outpatient encounters that are either not assigned costs or assigned costs between -$1 and $1. In fiscal year (FY) 2004, low cost data represented 8.2% of all MCA data containing information about outpatient care. Technical Report #23, Comparison of MCA Encounter-Level National Data Extracts and the VA National Patient Care Database: FY2004, reveals that by including low cost MCA encounters in a comparison between the MCA and NPCD databases, outpatient utilization thought to be missing from MCA was found, and almost all outpatient care was reported in MCA. The low cost files, which have supplemented MCA outpatient extracts since FY2002, are thus important in identifying VHA outpatient encounters. The low cost files are stored at the Austin Information Technology Center (AITC). To obtain the file names, please contact us.

Learn More

  • Technical Report #23: Comparison of DSS Encounter-Level National Data Extracts and the VA National Patient Care Database: FY2004 (Intranet-only: https://vaww.herc.research.va.gov/files/RPRT_430.pdf)

HERC Resources


Last updated: April 13, 2021