The private healthcare industry underwent a coding restructuring yesterday (March 1), whereby the existing coding conventions for everything from medicines to wheelchairs and surgical supplies will migrate from six to seven digits. Wilma Liebenberg, CEO of Knowledge Objects, says: “This coding change is equivalent to the pharmaceutical and private healthcare industry’s version of Y2K.”
“This is why we have prepared our higher automation solutions and thoroughly tested the systems to effectively mitigate any potential risk or inconvenience for our clients and their members,” she adds.
The system, which comprises a set of standard, national electronic unique identifier codes, known as National Pharmaceutical Product Interface (NAPPI) codes, is being extended because the current six-digit format of the codes will soon reach full capacity.
“The owners of the system advised the industry in 2016 of the need to migrate to a seven-digit code system, and advised all affected stakeholders to ensure that their systems will be ready to accommodate this change,” Liebenberg explains.
“It is essential that the information technology systems supporting healthcare funders and their administrators, managed care and healthcare providers as well as the entire healthcare delivery chain are prepared for this change. We have upgraded our systems with the relevant field sizes and naming conventions so that our clients can be confident that their operations will not be impacted.
“The Knowledge Objects systems will be fully compatible with either the existing six-digit and the new seven-digit coding structures to ensure there is a smooth transition to the new system. We anticipate no impact on members or providers,” Liebenberg says.
The public and wheelchair users should check with their service providers, such as medical schemes and healthcare service providers, about the new coding format to avoid any potential difficulties or confusion.