Magazine article Drug Topics

NPI Transition Should Put Patients First

Magazine article Drug Topics

NPI Transition Should Put Patients First

Article excerpt

Just because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has allowed healthcare providers to develop contingency plans in order to gain an extension to the May 23, 2007, deadline for implementation of the new National Provider Identifier (NPI) numbers doesn't mean that the compliance date has been extended. And in order to make this work during a difficult transition period, pharmacy and payers will need to work together to ensure a smooth handoff. That was the message delivered by National Council for Prescription Drug Programs experts at the organization's annual conference, held recently in Scottsdale, Ariz.

According to the latest CMS NPI statistics, about 85% of those individuals and organizations needing to obtain an NPI number had done so, some two weeks prior to the implementation deadline date. While several problems have prevented a better percentage of adoption, the least of which has been CMS' ongoing delay in releasing its database of NPI numbers or its National Plan/Provider Enumeration System (NPPES), the industry must continue to work on its contingency planning so that care of patients is not lost in the shuffle.

"We have to stay in contact with each other on this. We cannot afford patient care to go down the drain as the result of an NPI number," warned Lynne Gilbertson, W, standards development, for NCPDP, speaking at a conference session titled "Pharmacy and the NPI: Are you ready for implementation?"

"Discuss this with your trading partner," Gilbertson advised. "This is not a one-way street. We have to communicate with each other or there will be major failure."

According to an HHS/ CMS compliance guidance issued in April, the compliance date for obtaining and implementing an NPI number remains May 23. Use of legacy numbers after that date would be technically noncompliant, although providers would all be enumerated, which provides CMS flexibility of enforcement. CMS has indicated that it will accept legacy provider numbers for up to 12 months, as long as companies have made "good faith efforts" in pursuit of compliance.

"In the case of pharmacy, we as an industry need to continue to maintain a crosswalk between the NPI and any legacy identifiers," said Cathy Graeff, R. …

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