The NHI has enough numbers at the current rates of allocation to assign to people until 2025. The Ministry is working with the sector to introduce a change to the NHI numbering format to extend the range of NHI numbers available.
This involves checking and (where necessary) upgrading the health sector’s IT systems which use NHI numbers to accept a new format. This work is underway now to allow time for these checks and any upgrades to take place.
At the moment, NHI numbers involve a unique 7-character number in the format AAANNNC (3 alpha, 3 numeric and one numeric check digit), while the new format will take the form AAANNAX (3 alpha, 2 numeric, 1 alpha and one alpha check digit).
The new format will roll out once the current allocation of numbers has been exhausted.
What this means for the health and disability sector
Sector systems that use NHI numbers will need to make sure they can use both the current NHI numbering format (which is due to run out in a few years) and the new format, which will come into effect once the current allocation is exhausted.
Some systems may need to be upgraded, and it’s important that sufficient time is allowed for this work. We recommend that systems are ready to accommodate the new format by 1 July 2022, well ahead of the expected change-over data of 2025.
Retaining the existing NHI character length and changing the alpha/numeric character sequence is considered the option that will have the least impact on the sector, and is unlikely to require a change in most databases.
The Ministry will maintain (as far as practicable) a central register of commonly used health applications that have been updated to accommodate the new format. Vendors who have upgraded applications to the use the new format should let us know by emailing [email protected]health.govt.nz.
The costs of upgrading any systems is expected to be an issue for the software vendors and software providers to determine. The NHI represents a fundamental health system standard.
If you would like to know more about what the changes might mean for you, please contact [email protected].