It turns out we could. After talking with the client to define exactly what he needed, our data analysts were able to return (that’s data talk for “pull” or “produce”) a data set with compensation information for more than 2,000 job titles held by 17,000 individuals at 5,000 nonprofit medical facilities. Many of the positions were highly specialized, such as Physician Radiation Oncologist (we found one) and Physician—Women's Clinic (we found three).
But Wait! There’s More!
We pulled most of the information for this specific request from the compensation section (Part VII) of IRS Form 990. But there’s a lot more health care information in the GuideStar database, courtesy of Form 990 Schedule H. The IRS introduced Schedule H in 2008 as part of a complete overhaul of Form 990. Completing Schedule H was voluntary that year but became mandatory for nonprofit hospitals (or the nonprofits that run them) in 2009.
Schedule H is a treasure trove of information. A nonprofit hospital must report whether it offered financial assistance and other community benefits during the tax year and, if it did, what kinds, the monetary value, how much expense it incurred providing them, and what percentage of total expenses these expenditures were. Other information includes bad debts, Medicare, and collection practices; management companies and joint ventures; facility information (how many and what types); community health needs assessments; and financial assistance policy.
We’ve captured all of this data. When I say “captured,” I mean that literally in many cases. Although the IRS is now releasing electronically filed 990s and schedules through Amazon Web Services, not all hospitals have efiled. We’ve digitized (hand-keyed, for the most part) about 1,900 Schedules H since 2008, and even this year, we’ve received 70 that were filed on paper. The IRS release also only goes back to 2011; our Schedule H data spans 2008 to 2017. Soon we’ll start receiving 2018 filings as well.
The existence of such rich information is a far cry from the situation when I handled media relations for GuideStar between October 2001 and July 2010. Back then, when a reporter asked me about hospitals, I pretty much ran screaming in the other direction (in my defense, so did our then-vice president for research. I learned from the best). Health care organizations were a mess. They were huge and often interrelated, and teasing out connections between personnel, finances, and programs—and knowing you’d done so accurately—was a nightmare.
We’re delighted to help people find the information they need to make decisions about the social sector. To learn about other data we’ve helped people find, download a free copy of “Hidden Business Opportunities in GuideStar Data.”
Suzanne Coffman is GuideStar’s editorial director.