What Is the National Physician Registry?

Commonly known as NPI, the National Provider Identifier is a registry of physicians that allows patients, as well as billing and insurance representatives, to search for a health care provider's National Plan and Provider Enumeration System or NPPES information. Details in the NPI Registry are updated daily. If a provider's NPI is unknown, a search is run using the provider's name or the practice name for which a provider works. The NPI is available free of charge.

National Provider Identifiers are also used by providers to identify themselves, or other providers, during health care actions, dictations, and on other health-related information, to adhere to regulations of the Health Information Privacy and Portability Act or HIPPA. These identifiers reduce the need to use names, reducing the risk of compromised information and breaches in privacy.

Registry identifiers are also used on prescriptions. Although they do not replace the need for a physician's state license number or Drug Enforcement Agency number, they are an alternative to using a name to identify the prescribing physician. Electronic patient record systems also utilize National Provider Identifiers to keep track of which physicians provide services, while the Department of Health and Human Services uses the registry to check providers' records against fraud, misconduct and abuse files.