To search physician information using an NPI database, the individual must enter the physician's first or last name, NPI or practice state to conduct the search. The more information entered into the given fields displays more specific results.
An NPI number is a 10-digit number that is issued to health providers in the United States by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. HIPAA has required that each health provider within the United States have a unique NPI for provider identification.
The NPIdb website allows users to perform NPI searchers for doctors and medical facilities or organizations as a free service to the general public. Users can search by doctors first or last name, medical group name or NPI number. When searching by first and last name, the users can use the drop-down box under the "Similar" section and select either "yes" or "no." By selecting "yes," the results will display the names that match what was entered in the search bar, as well as any that are similar. For example, a spelling of "Smith" would also bring up physicians with the last name spelled "Smyth."
The NPI database website is updated on a regular basis but not in real time, and many physicians do not update their information if they have moved practices or changed medical groups.