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Ask MaxMD: What is a digital endpoint and why do I need one?

10/21/2021 by MaxMD

Ask MaxMD: I’m a provider applying for my NPI. Can you tell me what is a digital endpoint and why do I need one?

According to National Plan & Provider Enumeration System (NPPES), a digital endpoint can be a CONNECT URL, Direct Messaging Address (Direct), FHIR URL, RESTful URL, SOAL URL or other URL. An Endpoint is not a personal or work email address and cannot be an electronic fax number. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), under the 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule, mandated a centralized directory of provider electronic addresses for data exchange published by the NPPES to ensure that providers are able to electronically exchange care coordination information and to promote interoperability. 

The CMS Interoperability and Patient Access Rule mandated that when requesting an NPI, providers are required to provide their Endpoint information. For providers that already have an NPI, the failure to enter this information could constitute information blocking and will be publically reported as noncompliant if an Endpoint is not provided. You can access NPPES website using this link.

Today, the most likely digital endpoint a provider will have to enter is a Direct Messaging address (Direct address). A provider may want to enter a Direct address to use for receiving transition of care documents or one for receiving ADT Notifications. A provider can enter more than one digital endpoint. Entering more than one Direct address and indicating the purpose for each helps optimize communication for different workflows.

Also, we provide many resources on our FAQ page at this link to describe what Direct is and how you can use it. Essentially, Direct looks and acts like email but is secure and users are identity proofed. There are many uses of Direct for providers, including closed loop referrals and sending and receiving ADT notifications. Direct also enables users to meet the Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2 summary of care measures.

Check out our post on how to enter your Endpoint in NPPES at this link.


For more information about NPPES, please see the following links for additional resources:

CMS 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule

NPPES Health Information Exchange Page

CMS Interoperability & Patient Access Final Rule