Beaverlog Tips: Volume 33 - July 25, 2006

Provider NPI - The Deadline Approaches

Do you have your NPI?  Don't wait and risk disrupting your cash flow.  Get your NPI now!  National Provider Identifiers (NPIs) will be required on claims sent on or after May 23, 2007 and every healthcare provider needs to get an NPI.  More information is available on the CMS web site:  This page has lots of other useful information as well. Be sure to bookmark this page as new information and resources will continue to be posted.

Additional information is available from the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) NPI Outreach Initiative Website at


Quick and Easy Backups on Thumb Drives

You can change the location for your quick backups to a thumb drive and save up to nine backups on one drive. For those unfamiliar with them, thumb drives are the increasingly popular devices that slip into a USB slot on your computer and show up as a new drive. Most of them are based on what is called Flash Memory rather than a real drive but some of the higher capacity ones are actually tiny hard disks. They range in size from about 128 MB to 8 GB (1GB = 1,024 MB). For Windows 98 and ME, you may need to install a driver for your computer to recognize them but Windows NT, 2000, and XP should recognize most of them immediately.

Once you put the thumb drive into a USB port (USB 2.0 is much faster than USB 1.1), change your Quick Backup Path by going to:

Setup > Preferences > Backup Options

Right-click in the entry field to select a new location and use the Drive drop-down to select your thumb drive. On the same screen, change the Number to Maintain to 9 and The THERAPIST will cycle through nine backups overwriting the oldest one once you have nine backups on the drive.

WARNING:  Some thumb drives require that you run a little program before you remove the thumb drive. In Windows XP, there is an icon in your system tray (the area, usually in the lower right corner, where the clock is) that shows "safely remove hardware" when you hold your mouse over it. You can also remove them when the computer is turned off. I have two thumb drives. The smaller one I can remove without going through this three second process but the larger one, a tiny hard disk, requires that I "demount" it before removing it. It is possible to lose data or even damage the drive if you do not follow the manufacturer's instructions for removing a thumb drive.


New CMS-1500 Claim Form Reminder

You can start using the new CMS-1500 claim form on October 1, 2006 if your payers accept it. On May 23, 2007 you will be required to use the new form. This corresponds with the date the provider NPI will be required. More information about changes to the form was in the Beaver Log Tips volume 32.


Consultant Woes

Often, a computer consultant or technician at a computer shop calls our technical support, to help set up or troubleshoot a problem with The THERAPIST. We are always happy to do this but there are a few things you should know before you have your technician contact us for support.

  • Support calls from consultants or technicians are charged the same as if they were calls from you and all the normal rules apply.
  • If you haven't given us permission to talk to them, we will have to contact you to obtain that permission. This is for your protection. You certainly wouldn't want us to help someone who obtained your computer or your data illicitly and without your permission, we have no way of knowing if it is a legitimate request for assistance.
  • While many of the consultants and technicians we talk are both skilled and knowledgeable, at least half of them are incompetent. You may be required to have a license and pass some kind of certification to practice but consultants and technicians do not. Anyone who thinks he or she is a computer wiz can hang out a shingle as a computer consultant. Naturally, we wouldn't expect a consultant or technician to have plumbed the depths of The THERAPIST (thought surprisingly, some have) but many of them don't have even the most rudimentary knowledge of how to change standard Windows settings, run Windows Explorer, or do other things anyone who purports to be an expert should know how to do. Only a few really know how to set up and configure a network.

So how do you find a good one? Look for someone who has been in business for more than one or two years. Get references. Call those references. Being you husband, wife, brother, uncle, cousin, brother-in-law, or neighbor should not be sufficient qualification for letting someone work on your computer. These folks may well know more about computers than you do but be very careful when your data (i.e. your livelihood) is at stake.

Sometimes we find ourselves ethically bound to contact our customer to let them know about the lack of competence of a consultant or technician. When we think your data or computer functionality is at serious risk from one of the incompetent ones, it is our duty. You can save yourself a lot of grief by carefully selecting who works on your computer. Of course, if it's a close relative or friend who is willing to help you for free, you have to ask yourself how expensive "free" will end up being.