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National Hospital Care Survey

Dr Frieden“The National Hospital Care Survey (NHCS) is a new survey that will gather critical information on important issues facing our health care system from a wide variety of sources across hospital settings. Your participation in this survey is vital in order to gather the information needed to make our health care system even better and more safe than it is now. Thank you in advance for your participation.”

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The National Hospital Care Survey (NHCS) is designed to provide accurate and reliable health care statistics that answer key questions of interest to health care and public health professionals, researchers, and health care policy makers. This includes tracking the latest trends affecting hospitals and health care organizations and factors that influence the use of health care resources, the quality of health care, and disparities in health care services provided to population subgroups in the United States.

NHCS integrates inpatient data formerly collected by the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS), emergency department (ED) and outpatient department (OPD) data collected by the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), and substance-involved visit data previously collected by the Drug-Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). The integration of these three surveys allows examination of care provided across treatment settings. It will also be possible to link these survey data to outside data sources such as the National Death Index to obtain a more complete picture of patient care.


2015 Update: Participation in NHCS May Allow Hospitals to Earn Credit toward Meaningful Use (MU), Stage 3

On March 20, 2015, the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program announced the proposed rules for Stage 3 MU. NHCS is included in these proposed rules. The complete Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be accessed here: This rule is expected to finalize in early 2016 and go into effect January 2017. If the rule is finalized, it will mean that hospitals can use submission of NHCS data as one measure to fulfill their public health objectives for Stage 3 MU. To attest to using NHCS as one of the measures to meet the Public Health and Clinical Data Registry Reporting objective (#8), a hospital must electronically submit the required data from its Certified EHR Technology in compliance with the HL7 National Health Care Surveys Implementation Guide (IG).

What is the IG?

The HL7 IG for Clinical Data Architecture® Release 2: National Health Care Surveys, Release 1 - US Realm HL7 Draft Standard for Trial Use (DSTU) December 2014 is a specification or instruction manual for use by EHR vendors or hospitals to send NHCS data from a hospital’s EHR system to NCHS. This document is listed (with its old working title that includes National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and not the National Health Care Surveys) in the 2015 Interoperability Standards Advisory. The Standards Advisory represents the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s assessment of the best available standards and implementation specifications for clinical health information interoperability as of December 2014. The IG is named as the best available standard for content/structure for National Health Care Surveys. The IG is available through the HL7 Website.


Has your hospital been selected to take part in the National Hospital Care Survey? Check out our How to Participate in NHCS page!


For more information about NHCS, visit our About NHCS webpage!



National Hospital Care Survey

Contact Us:
  • Dr. Carol DeFrances
    Ambulatory and Hospital Care Statistics Branch
    National Center for Health Statistics
    3311 Toledo Road, Room 3230
    Hyattsville, MD 20782-2064
  • Phone: 301-458-4440
    Fax: 301-458-4693
  • The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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