As a result of the project on the NPI, and before legislation required the use of the standard identifier for all health care providers (see section I.C. Legislation, below), HCFA and other participants accepted the workgroup’s recommendation, and HCFA decided that this new identifier would be implemented in the Medicare program. HCFA began work on developing a national provider system (NPS) that would contain provider data and be equipped with the technology necessary to maintain and manage the data. Plans for the NPS included assigning the NPI and storing the data necessary to identify each health care provider uniquely. The NPI was designed to have no embedded intelligence. (That is, information about the health care provider, such as the type of health care provider or State where the health care provider is located, would not be conveyed by the NPI. This information was to have been recorded by the NPS in each health care provider’s record but would not be part of the identifier.)
The NPS was designed so that it could also be used by other Federal and State agencies and private health plans to enumerate their health care providers that do not participate in Medicare.