While discussions about the way evaluation and management (E/M) coding could change may have dominated recent coding conversations surrounding the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS), other equally important proposed changes to the field of telemedicine may have slipped under your radar.
If they have, now would be a good time to get up to speed. Because CMS is continuing its drive to modernize Medicare and give beneficiaries who face geographic struggles in accessing healthcare the chance to virtually connect with their providers. That means Medicare is planning on reimbursing for more telehealth services, which in turn gives you a chance to boost your bottom line.
Let’s begin with two new HCPCS codes that may not seem like much, but which could add up to big things, both for your patients’ access to your providers and for your practice’s revenue stream. CMS’s proposed MPFS for 2019 includes plans to reimburse providers for virtual check-ins with the following
The first records simple phone, text, or email interactions between a patient and your provider regarding the status of a medical issue, while the second allows patients to send a video or an image, again via email or phone, to be evaluated by a provider to determine the severity of the condition and type of follow-up.
The codes are a win-win for all concerned. Patients get to send in quick health queries without having to leave home and wait in your office; providers get to determine the seriousness of a condition before committing valuable time to resolving it; and your billing office finally gets reimbursed for the service.
The 2019 MPFS also shows that CMS is committed to resolving a longstanding issue in reimbursement: compensating providers for consulting services. Medicare’s policy of not reimbursing for these services seems about to change, at least as far as telehealth is concerned, with the revision of four existing codes and the addition of two more.
CMS’s proposal is to unbundle 99446-99449 and, for the first time in five years, make them separately reimbursable, while 99451-99452 now gives flexibility for the consulting physician to consult using the patient’s electronic health record, either for assessment and management or, in the case of 99452, for referral purposes.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where we’ll explore new E/M codes for remote patient monitoring that expand Medicare coverage of services using technology to connect with patients at home.
Stay on top of the latest code and guideline changes, as well as regulatory updates and revisions to CCI bundles, modifiers, payer policies, the physician fee schedule, the OIG work plan, TPE, RACs, and more with Medicare Compliance & Reimbursement.
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