The private healthcare industry is gearing up for a coding structure change that is to come into effect from 1 March 2018, when existing coding conventions for anything from medicines to wheelchairs and surgical supplies will migrate from six to seven digits.
“This coding change is equivalent to the pharmaceutical and private healthcare industry’s version of Y2K, and 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,” explains Wilma Liebenberg, CEO of Knowledge Objects.

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.

“We anticipate no impact to members or providers on the claims that we adjudicate. I would urge other industry stakeholders to check their state of readiness for the coding system change so that there is no disruption of service or inconvenience for healthcare consumers,” Liebenberg advises.

“Healthcare consumers should be aware of the change, effective from 1 March, and I would encourage the public to check with their service providers, such as medical schemes and healthcare service providers, whether they are ready for a seamless conversion to the new coding format.

“This awareness can help to avoid potential difficulties in the event that any link in the healthcare value chain is not adequately prepared for the change that is coming.”