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Since its inception more than 40 years ago, the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS) has been a principal source of information on inpatient utilization in short-stay, nonfederal hospitals in the United States. However, it is based on concepts of the health care delivery system and hospital and patient universe of previous decades. For the NHDS to remain relevant, it must reflect the types of care and services now offered in American hospitals. The National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asked RAND Health to assist in the first phase of the redesign effort by developing an approach for redesigning the survey and identifying, through a feasibility study, specific data elements to be included and field procedures to be used in that survey. New data elements recommended add clinical and financial depth and breadth, and the ability to link facility structure to process and outcomes of care. The survey also provides a structure for incorporating modules that can focus in detail on selected issues.

This report documents the findings from this study and includes appendixes containing the names of people and institutions involved in the study and the forms and surveys used in the study and revised in light of the findings.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics and conducted within RAND Health, a division of the RAND Corporation.

This report is part of the RAND technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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