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Federal Advocacy
National Provider Identifier (NPI)

Tips to Avoid NPI Nightmares



Getting a National Provider Identifier (NPI) can result in headaches for both practices and individual providers. If a practice applies for NPIs for all of its providers and an individual doctor applies for his own NPI, the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) could generate two NPIs for one provider, leaving the practice manager and provider with the problem of figuring out which one to use.

Doctors should keep in mind that they re responsible for obtaining a NPI or knowing who is applying for the number. NPPES instructs the person receiving the NPI to notify the physician of the number.

When there is a change in your NPI information, i.e. change of address, you must notify the NPI enumerator within 30 days.

The following are several tips to help avoid hassles:

  • Make sure everyone is on the same page before applying for the NPI.  The practice manager should sit down with providers and make sure no one else has applied.

  • Apply for the NPI online at nppes.cms.hhs.gov and not by paper application. The paper application does not allow you to pick a user name for the NPI recipient.

  • Print out the last page of the online application – it contains the tracking number for the application.

  • Save the message that is sent via email that alerts you of the NPI number. Print this out and place an extra copy in your personnel file so it stays with you.

  • Select your own online password.  The password and number belong to you. If you have a practice manager, do not let them select passwords for all applying.

Check with your practice management system vendor to make sure that it has a location in its system for an NPI number. Also, ask your clearinghouse when it will be able to accept the NPI number.