Why Should Athletic Trainers Get an NPI?

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Posted March 29, 2016

By Kathy I. Dieringer EdD, ATC, LAT

District VI Director

You’ve heard it before, but now it is even more important. As Athletic Trainers (ATs), we are at a crucial time in the history of our profession, positioned to be a leader in healthcare since our team-based approach is the model on which the future is based. ATs are the experts in injury prevention, and healthcare is moving in the direction of emphasizing prevention. We have worked for years to improve our status in healthcare and have made incredible strides, but our work is not done!

So why don’t some ATs take the 5 to 10 minutes to get their NPI? We’ve all heard the reasons: I’m in the (fill–in-the-blank) setting so it doesn’t apply to me; I will never bill for my services; I don’t like how we’re categorized; or it doesn’t help me.

Let’s take the I and me out of it, and think we, as in we, the athletic training profession. It doesn’t matter where you work, it doesn’t matter if you are seeking reimbursement and categories can be changed. What matters is representing yourself as a healthcare provider with an NPI. We were recognized by the American Medical Association over a decade ago, and while that recognition was important, we must continue to progress.

When any entity is trying to assess market penetration of healthcare providers, they use one common tool: the NPI database. This is true of legislators, regulatory agencies and insurance companies.  This occurs on the state level as well as the federal level. Imagine the powerful representation we would have if all ATs were represented during this search. There is definitely strength in numbers. Using NPI statistics gives ATs more power in legislative, regulatory and healthcare initiatives, increasing our value as allied healthcare providers.

The most commonly understood reason to have an NPI is its necessity when billing third party payers for services performed by a healthcare provider. Any claim submitted to an insurance company must identify the AT by an NPI or the claim will be rejected. Is third party reimbursement important to our profession? Absolutely! Is it THE most important reason to get an NPI? In my opinion, no.

The most important reason for all ATs to get their NPIs is to increase the representation of our profession in the healthcare market. We are stronger together, and this most definitely pertains to market penetration of our profession.

I implore every AT to take the time and get your NPI. The process takes all of 5 to 10 minutes, and your NPI follows you for the rest of your career as a healthcare provider.

Follow this link to learn more about how easy it is to obtain an NPI, as well as step by step instructions:


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