Research

NPI Numbers: A Better Way to Measure Outcomes for PA Education

December 12, 2018

Do you know where your graduates are now? The specialty in which they are practicing? If you have ever had to prove the success of your program in meeting its mission for accreditation or demonstrate program outcomes for grant reporting, these are questions you have likely had to answer.

Unfortunately, keeping track of your graduates isn’t always easy. With the PA workforce landscape constantly evolving — and programs relying on irregular updates from busy graduates regarding their practice choices — it seems almost impossible to determine what students are doing with their education. However, there is a simple and cost-effective approach available to programs that wish to streamline their alumni data collection process.  

As part of the association’s Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Waiver Training Initiative, PAEA is encouraging all programs to have their students obtain and share their National Provider Identifier (NPI) while in their programs. The NPI is a unique 10-digit identification number required by HIPAA that is assigned to all covered health care providers in the U.S. and is not subject to change or expiration. This means that, even if students lose contact with their program, change their name, or acquire a new business address, programs will be able to track their professional development. With the NPI, collecting the data your program needs to support grant-related goals and program objectives has never been easier.

But, what if your program is satisfied with its current tracking methods? Do student NPI numbers still matter? Yes! Without a uniform method for tracking alumni practice choices and locations among all PA programs, PA education is at a significant disadvantage for securing new federal investments. If all programs adopted the requirement that students apply for and report their NPI number, the case for federal funding would be strengthened by the availability of data that demonstrate the impact of PA education on graduating health professionals who are helping to reduce current workforce shortages.

If you’re ready to get your program’s student NPI collection efforts off the ground, learn how to get started by contacting MAT Initiative Project Director John Lopes at jlopes@PAEAonline.org or (703) 667-4322 — or check out PAEA’s YouTube channel for step-by-step instructions on how to apply for an NPI.