September 02, 2015

Solving the Provider Directory Problem for the Country

In many previous posts, I’ve written about the importance of enabling infrastructure to accelerate interoperability.   The standards are not the rate limiting step, but the lack of a provider directory, patient identifier, and consent registry are.

David McCallie of Cerner has solved the provider directory problem of the country.

He downloaded the NPPES national provider database.

He created a FHIR-based Application Program Interface to the database by writing 300 lines of Python code and put it live on Amazon Web Services (for $15/month)

You can try it yourself here:

Just look up last name Halamka (or any other physician know)

Some important caveats:

It’s based on loading the imperfect and often out-of-date CMS national provider database. database.

The national provider database does not contain Direct addresses, so to run it as a real national service, Health Information Services Providers (HISPs) would need to submit a comma separated value (CSV) file of Direct Addresses and National Provider Identifiers at reasonable intervals.

Each night, the database could be re-loaded  using the then-current CSV files.  That would easily allow a HISP to remove or correct names, or even drop out (submit an empty CSV.)

As I wrote about in my recent post, Trajectory not Position, we all need to be doers.

The Provider Directory for the country issue has been solved, we just need to get HISPs involved in updating it.

I look forward to including the David McCallie Provider Directory FHIR implementation in upcoming national standards recommendations.

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