Outpatient billing data sets are compiled from physician outpatient bills that are submitted electronically to insurers. These data sets are important for research in biosurveillance because a majority of patient interactions with the healthcare system, for both acute and chronic disease, occur as visits to physician outpatient offices, rather than hospitals; therefore, they potentially can identify smaller outbreaks or outbreaks of diseases that do not often cause hospitalization. These data were used in an evaluation conducted by Siegrist et al. (2004).
Claims data include date of service, patient and physician location, patient age and gender, all diagnoses for the visit by ICD-9 code and all procedures performed by CPT code. Although the source data contains specific street address information for both the physician office and the patient home that potentially could be available for public health operations purposes, data are available to researchers only at the five-digit zip code level for patients.
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