What is a pre-allocated number?

Pre-allocated numbers come from a block of NHI numbers that have been taken out of the normal sequence of NHI numbers currently being assigned to new registrations. The set of pre-allocated numbers in use at the moment comes from the ‘J’ range – that is, they start with the letter J.

Why are pre-allocated numbers important?

Most DHB patient management systems use the NHI number as a medical record number, and most require an NHI number before a patient can be admitted or have tests or X-rays done.

How pre-allocated numbers are used

In Emergency Departments

A common use of pre-allocated NHI numbers is in emergency departments, where a block of numbers may be loaded into the local patient management system, to be used when demographic details cannot be obtained from the patient or those accompanying the patient.

These numbers are usually loaded with details such as “Emergency Red Bracelet 1” or similar (this will vary between organisations). The numbers should be kept in the local system until the true details of the patient can be ascertained and the correct NHI number, if one exists, can be found. At this point the pre-allocated number must be updated with the correct patient details, made ‘live’ on the NHI, and merged/linked with the existing number.

It is essential to add the correct details to the pre-allocated number, otherwise the merge/link request might be rejected or need to be investigated by the NHI data analysts who manage the merge approval process. (See Making a pre-allocated number ‘live’ on the NHI database for details of how to make the number ‘live’.)

When the NHI is unavailable

If the NHI database is not available or the local system has lost its connection to the NHI, then pre-allocated numbers can be used locally until the connection is restored. Once the NHI is available again, make the numbers ‘live’ on the NHI database as outlined under Making a pre-allocated number ‘live’ on the NHI database.

In Maternity Units

Pre-allocated numbers are assigned to some babies in an emergency situation or where the maternity unit has no access to the NHI after hours.

It is essential to make these numbers ‘live’ on the NHI as soon as possible. If the baby needs to be transferred to a tertiary unit, the pre-allocated number should travel with the baby, and the receiving unit will need to advised that they should put the pre-allocated number into their own system and subsequently make it ‘live’ if this has not already been done. If the pre-allocated number has already been made ‘live’, then the details can be downloaded from the NHI into the local system.

How to obtain pre-allocated NHI numbers

Pre-allocated numbers can be obtained by contacting the Ministry's Health Identity team with details of your request. A record is maintained of which pre-allocated numbers have been assigned to which organisation and tracking of the use of these.

E-mail the team at datamanagementservices@moh.govt.nz.

Making a pre-allocated number ‘live’ on the NHI database

You make a pre-allocated number ‘live’ in the same way as you would perform a new registration – ie, search first then select the ‘register’ option. Your patient management system should give you the option of putting in a pre-allocated number somewhere on the screen. If it doesn’t give you this option, don’t proceed with the registration, otherwise you will create a duplicate registration.