Providers: We want doc registry!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

While CMS continues pushing providers to get their national provider identification numbers (NPI), some in the industry have expressed concern over the lack of a central directory listing physician NPIs.
"That is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to prevent fully compliant implementation of NPI across the board without claims delay," said Andrea Stark, a Medicare consultant for MiraVista. "That information should be made public to facilitate the coordination of that."
Beginning May 23, HMEs must include the referring doctor's NPI on Medicare claims. Ideally, Medicare says, providers should begin using NPIs at least 120 days before that, allowing time to implement the numbers in current business practices and work out any bugs.
Mark Gielniak, vice president of Warren, Mich.-based Diabetes Plus, said getting his NPI was easy. Getting the NPIs of his referral sources is another matter.
"We've been trying to collect as many as possible from the physicians we deal with, but we're finding that a lot don't even know what an NPI is," said Gielniak. "It's not like anyone should be caught off guard.
As of Jan. 18, 1.6 million providers, had NPIs--about 40%--estimated Kim Brummett, who sits on the National Uniform Claims Committee that oversees the NPI numbers. Without a directory, she fears, providers, hospitals, labs--anyone who bills Medicare--will slam physicians with calls all at once, creating system-wide problems.
"You can't possibly get all the NPIs for physicians loaded and ready to roll (in one day)--let alone feel comfortable that the DMERCs and the MACS (will be able) to recognize the NPIs (for anyone)," said Brummett.