The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics has been a sentinel organization in the area of uniform data efforts. Promoting the standardization of health information has been a consistent and defining Committee activity for 25 years. The Committee's efforts, first in the area of inpatient hospital data (the Uniform Hospital Discharge Data Set or UHDDS) and later in the area of ambulatory care (the Uniform Ambulatory Care Data Set or UACDS) have moved the country in the direction of achieving comparability in the health data collected by federal agencies, states, localities and the private sector, as well as in the international community. The Committee recognizes the need for uniform, comparable standards across geographic areas, populations, systems, institutions and sites of care to maximize the effectiveness of health promotion and care and minimize the burden on those responsible for generating the data. To this end, the Committee has advised the Department on such matters as Federal-state relationships, nomenclatures and classification systems, core data sets, and access and confidentiality issues.
The data sets promulgated by the NCVHS have become de facto standards in their areas for data collection by Federal and state agencies, as well as public and private data abstracting organizations. They have influenced the claim forms on which Medicare and Medicaid data sets are based. Both the UHDDS and UACDS have been reviewed and updated by the NCVHS and the Department in recent years. In addition, the Committee and Department have been involved in activities related to standardizing the collection of data in the long-term care setting.
The UHDDS currently in use was promulgated by the Department in 1985; the NCVHS recommended and circulated a revision in 1992, with additional recommendations from an Interagency Task Force in 1993. The UACDS has never been officially promulgated by the Department, but a 1989 revision by the NCVHS and an Interagency Task Force has been widely circulated, as has a further refinement by the NCVHS in 1994. No decisions have been made by the Department on any of these recommended revisions of either the UHDDS or the UACDS.