What are the national patterns of health care delivery in hospital-based settings?

Conducting the National Hospital Care Survey (NHCS)


The National Hospital Care Survey (NHCS) is tracking the latest trends affecting hospitals and health care organizations. It tracks factors that influence:

  • Use of health care resources
  • Quality of health care
  • Disparities in health care services provided to population subgroups in the U.S.

Westat operated the survey for the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), recruiting hospitals, collecting data, processing and harmonizing data, and constructing patient IDs that can track encounters across years.


Westat recruited 200+ hospitals to send all inpatient and emergency department data. We implemented methods to receive, process, and harmonize data from multiple sources and formats: UB-04 billing data, state-based billing standards, HL7 version 3 documents, and custom extracts from hospital electronic health record (EHR) systems. We also developed a highly scalable data pipeline to test, validate, and extract data from HL7 version 3 documents.

Westat developed and used a natural language processing (NLP) technique to synthesize provider mentions from 35,500,000 payer names collected.

We also:

  • Provided preliminary datasets to respond to the need for rapid data during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Supported efforts to validate algorithms to identify opioid involvement


More than 81 million records have been processed, harmonized, and delivered.

Data gathered will help provide accurate and reliable health care statistics that answer key questions of interest to health care and public health professionals, researchers, and health care policymakers.

These data will contribute to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Emergency Department Surveillance System (SEDSS).

Data will provide statistics on the nation’s opioid epidemic as well as other prescription and illicit drug use and abuse.


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