The billing process for healthcare providers has become more effective and simplified in the decade since the introduction of National Provider Identifiers (NPIs) by CMS. All healthcare programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, accept and recognize NPIs.
As a result, NPIs, much like a Social Security number, have become an important part of the medical identities of healthcare providers. This also implies that an NPI is vulnerable to identity theft, much like a Social Security number. This is mainly because there is no confidentiality with NPIs. On the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System, the NPI is available publicly.
Is NPI a public record?
Yes NPI is a public record. Have you ever put your name on Google to see what comes up? As a licensed physician, you will probably see directories that use government databases for public records, often the National Provider Index (NPI). The NPI is a unique ten-digit number assigned by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to any health care provider (CMS). Your NPI is permanent once allocated and stays with you irrespective of work or location changes. Your NPI profile covers your name, contact details for the office, and your specialty.
If your cell phone number or home address appears on different online directories and websites, instead of your office phone and address, it could be because it was listed as your primary contact information on NPI. Either you have entered it or someone on your behalf has added this data to your NPI profile. This public data from the NPI is used by many online directories, so you need to make sure that your NPI profile includes the exact details you want patients to see.
So how do I fix this?
It's a terrifying thing to make your personal details publicly accessible. But the good news is that your online identity can be managed by you. Just follow the steps below and void theft of your NPI and potentially prevent large-scale healthcare fraud.
- Always share your NPI responsibly and sparingly.
- Check-in on how your NPI is being used.
- To ensure that everything is correct and nothing has changed, periodically check the enrollment data with payers.