Category: Medical Billing and Coding

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Understand How To Code Telehealth, Telemedicine

Hint: The terms aren’t interchangeable.

Providers are increasing patients’ access to healthcare services through virtual communications. If providing services to patients without an in-person, face-to-face interaction makes sense for your practice, it’s important for you to know how to code the services correctly.

TelehealthWhile you may hear telehealth and telemedicine used interchangeably, from a coding perspective, the words refer to different services and situations.

Definitions:  A good place to start is by outlining the difference between telehealth (defined as any health service provided by telecommunications) and telemedicine (defined as any clinical service provided by telecommunications). Additionally, you’ll want to consider the array of nuanced guidelines and constantly changing code sets.

Have a look at three key areas to cover some of your most pressing telemedicine and telehealth services’ coding needs:

 

  1. Keep an Eye on Changes

“One of the greatest challenges facing telemedicine coding is that changes in technology typically occur faster than changes in coding,” says Kent Moore, senior strategist for physician payment at the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“CPT® code change proposals are often generated and acted upon more than a year before the changes/new codes appear in CPT®, and CPT®itself is only published once a year. So, it’s easy to see how technology moves faster, leaving coders to wonder if a new telemedicine service fits an existing code or needs to be reported using an unlisted code,” Moore adds.

As an example of this rapid change, theCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) introduced two new HCPCS codes for 2019: G2012 (Brief communication technology-based service, e.g. virtual check-in…) and G2010 (Remote evaluation of recorded video and/or images submitted by an established patient…), which you can use when a provider is evaluating information to determine if a patient needs to be seen in the office.

Additionally, CMS added two prolonged service codes, G0513 (Prolonged preventive service(s) … first 30 minutes…) and G0514 (…each additional 30 minutes…), to the telehealth services’ list.

One means of staying current with telemedicine codes is consulting Appendix P in your CPT® manual. Documenting any service listed there when provided via telemedicine is as easy as appending modifier 95 (Synchronous telemedicine service rendered via a real-time interactive audio and video telecommunications system). You will also need to add place of service (POS) code 02 (Telehealth) to your claim to indicate that the provider is at the distant site (as opposed to the originating site where the patient is located).

GT no longer needed: Unless you are billing claims from a critical access hospital (CAH) under method II for institutional claims, you no longer need to apply modifier GT (Via interactive audio and video telecommunication systems) to a Medicare telehealth claim. But modifier GQ (Via asynchronous telecommunications system) is still required for asynchronous communication when appropriate, says Mary I. Falbo, MBA, CPC, CEO of Millennium Healthcare Consulting Inc. in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

2. Know What Qualifies as Telemedicine

While telemedicine can involve the use of telephone communication, two groups of telephone evaluation and management (E/M) codes are not regarded as telemedicine.

Codes 99441 through 99443 (Telephone evaluation and management service by a physician or other qualified healthcare professional … provided to an established patient, parent, or guardian …) and 98966 through 98968 (Telephone assessment and management service provided by a qualified nonphysician health care professional to an established patient, parent, or guardian …) are not regarded as telemedicine because CPT®does not regard them as being “face-to-face” services.

Medicare Advantage Now Features Telehealth Expansion

In the past, telehealth was only an option offered through Medicare Advantage beneficiaries’ supplemental benefits, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to change that.

Now: Bolstered by provisions outlined in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA 2018), CMS updated telehealth services for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans starting in the contract year 2020, notes a two-part final rule, published in the Federal Register last month.

“Under this final rule, MA enrollees may have great opportunities to receive healthcare services from places like their homes, rather than being required to go to a healthcare facility,” CMS advises. “MA plans will now have broader flexibility than is currently available in how they pay for coverage of telehealth benefits to meet the needs of their enrollees.”

The final rule allows MA plans the option to offer telehealth benefits to MA patients beyond their supplemental benefits in both rural and urban environments, aligning with BBA 2018 legislation, indicate attorneys Matthew M. Shatzkes and Susan Ingargiola of the national law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, in the Sheppard Mullin Healthcare Law Blog.

However, “MA Plans will continue to be able to offer MA supplemental benefits (that is, benefits not covered by fee-for-service Medicare) via remote access technologies and/or telemonitoring for those services that do not meet the requirements for coverage under fee-for-service Medicare or the requirements for MA additional telehealth benefits (such as the requirement of being covered by Medicare Part B when provided in-person),” Shatzkes and Ingargiola explain.

The same is true for 99444 (Online evaluation and management service provided by a physician or other qualified healthcare professional … using the Internet or similar electronic communications network), which is also regarded as non-face-to-face and would also not be defined as telemedicine by virtue of its asynchronous nature.

3. Don’t Forget Difference Between State and Federal Rules

Depending on the nature of the telehealth service and the clinical care administered telemedically, CMS may not cover the outcomes.

“The key to compliance with Medicare rules is to evaluate the Medicare billing requirements for a bona fide telehealth encounter with the proposed arrangement from the telehealth company,” says John E. Morrone, a partner at Frier Levitt Attorneys at Law in New York City. “It is very common for healthcare services to comport with applicable state law but not be reimbursable by Medicare.”

He adds, “A telehealth encounter may be perfectly acceptable under state law, and even billable to commercial carriers, but not be billable to Medicare.”

Resource: For a more in-depth look at CMS’s telehealth services, visit https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNProducts/downloads/TelehealthSrvcsfctsht.pdf?utm_campaign=2a178f351b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_04_19_08_59&utm_term=0_ae00b0e89a-2a178f351b-353229765&utm_content=90024810&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&hss_channel=fbp-372451882894317.

 

Originally published Published on Thu Jun 06, 2019, TCI

New Patient Image
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What Makes A New Patient “New”?

A patient makes an appointment at your clinic and “has never been seen before”, you bill a new patient visit only to have the payer reject the claim, stating, “New patient qualifications have not been met”.

So, what went wrong?  Not all Evaluation and Management (E/M) codes fall under the new (versus established) categories.  For example, if the patient presents through the Emergency Department, the patient is always new, and the provider is always expected to get the patient’s history to diagnose a problem.  However, in the office setting, the patient sees their primary provider routinely.  The provider knows- or can quickly access- the patient’s history to manage their chronic conditions, as well as make decisions on recent problems.

The definition of a new patient in the CPT code book is: “one who has not received any professional services from the physician/qualified health care professional or another physician/qualified health care professional of the exact same specialty and subspecialty who belongs to the same group practice, within the past three years.”  In addition to this definition, CMS adds “an interpretation of a diagnostic test, reading an X-ray or EKG etc., in the absence of an E/M service or other face to face service with the patient does not affect the designation of a new patient.”[i]

Three key components that make up a new patient are:

  1. Professional Service (not modifier 26)– If the provider has never seen the patient face to face, a new patient code should be billed.
  2. Three-year rule- the general rule to determine if a patient is “new” is to check to see if that patient has been seen in the past three years. Check your dates on this-if the patient was seen the last time in May of 2015 and its March of 2018, it hasn’t been three years, according to the payer.
  3. Different specialty/subspecialty within the same group is possibly the most confusing. For Medicare patients, use the NPI registry to see what specialty the physician’s taxonomy is registered under.  The credentialing process is of upmost importance in ensuring no denials happen due to improper credentialing.

What happens when doctors switch practices?

If a doctor changes practices and takes his patients with him, the provider cannot bill for the patient as a new patient based on the “new” tax ID.  The tax ID doesn’t matter because the provider has already seen these patients and has established a history.  Just because the patient is being seen in a new facility, that patient is still seeing the same provider.

What happens when a provider sends the patient to mid-level provider?

When an MD or DO sends a patient to a mid-level provider (Nurse Practitioner or Physicians Assistant) and the visit is not an incident-to, the mid-level provider could bill a new patient code if they are a different specialty with different taxonomy codes.  An example would be a family practitioner and the mid-level sees hematology patients.  Since the specialty is different, the mid-level could bill as a new patient visit.  However, if the mid-level is also considered family practice, then a new patient visit code could not be used.

Of course, in billing there are always exceptions to the rules.

For example:

  • For some Medicaid plans, obstetric providers need to bill an initial prenatal visit with a new patient code, even if they have seen the patient for years prior to the patient’s pregnancy. Make sure you check your own local rules and Medicaid plans if you are billing obstetrics.
  • Hospitalists and Internal Medicine providers are the same specialty according to Medicare, even though each has a different taxonomy code.

If a new patient claim is denied, look to the medical record to see if the patient has been seen in the past three years by your group.  If so, check to see if the patient was seen by the same provider or a provider of the same specialty by checking the NPI registry website.  It’s always helpful to know how the provider is registered with the payer denying the claim.  If in researching all of this, there isn’t any substantiating evidence to support the denial, appeal the claim.

 

[i] Medicare Claims processing manual, chapter 12-Physican/Nonphysician Practitioners (30.6.7)

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New PT CPT Codes for 2017

pt-with-patient

CPT® 2017 has a few expanded codes for physical therapy evaluations and follow-up exams.  These codes are in effect for dates of service starting January 1, 2017.

97001 to be replaced by three codes in 2017:

These new codes will add more specificity and details regarding the scope of the evaluation and states that it involves clinical decision-making of low/moderate/high complexity. The evaluation includes history to identify any factors that impact the plan of care; using standardized tests and measures to assess body structures and functions that may limit activity or restrict participation; and evaluation of the patient’s current status on presentation. The evaluation typically includes face-to-face time with the patient and/or family.

97161 Physical therapy evaluation: low complexity, requiring these components: A history with no personal factors and/or comorbidities that impact the plan of care; An examination of body system(s) using standardized tests and measures addressing 1-2 elements from any of the following: body structures and functions, activity limitations, and/or participation restrictions; A clinical presentation with stable and/or uncomplicated characteristics; and Clinical decision making of low complexity using standardized patient assessment instrument and/or measurable assessment of functional outcome. Typically, 20 minutes are spent face-to-face with the patient and/or family.
97162 Physical therapy evaluation: moderate complexity, requiring these components: A history of present problem with 1-2 personal factors and/or comorbidities that impact the plan of care; An examination of body systems using standardized tests and measures in addressing a total of 3 or more elements from any of the following: body structures and functions, activity limitations, and/or participation restrictions; An evolving clinical presentation with changing characteristics; and Clinical decision making of moderate complexity using standardized patient assessment instrument and/or measurable assessment of functional outcome. Typically, 30 minutes are spent face-to-face with the patient and/or family.
97163 Physical therapy evaluation: high complexity, requiring these components: A history of present problem with 3 or more personal factors and/or comorbidities that impact the plan of care; An examination of body systems using standardized tests and measures addressing a total of 4 or more elements from any of the following: body structures and functions, activity limitations, and/or participation restrictions; A clinical presentation with unstable and unpredictable characteristics; and Clinical decision making of high complexity using standardized patient assessment instrument and/or measurable assessment of functional outcome. Typically, 45 minutes are spent face-to-face with the patient and/or family.

CPT® 2017 adds 97164 to replace 97002 (Physical therapy re-evaluation).

The new code adds more specificity and details regarding the scope of the evaluation, which includes history review and standardized tests (criteria established and agreed upon by a group of experts) and measures to assess body structure and function; a revised plan of care using standardized instrument and measurable functional outcome assessment tool; and typically involves 20 minutes of face-to-face time with patient and/or family.

Consider these to be the equivalent of E&M codes (99000) for Physical Therapy.  You should now consider these elements when coding for services:

  • Patient’s history
  • Examination results
  • Clinical decision-making
  • Development of the care plan

The level of the PT evaluation performed depends on the clinical decision-making and the patient’s severity, according to CPT® instruction. For reporting, PTs must demonstrate review of these body regions and body systems:

  • Defined body regions such as the head, neck, back, lower extremities, upper extremities, and trunk
  • Musculoskeletal systems, which include gross symmetry, range of motion, strength, height, and weight
  • Neuromuscular systems, which includes gross coordinated movement and motor function
  • Cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, which include heart and respiratory rates, blood pressure, and edema
  • Integumentary system, which means assessing the pliability, scar formation, color, and integrity of the skin

One other thing-make sure to sequence these codes before your modality CPT codes (those starting at 97010).

OT and AT have similar changes.  Look for those in a future post.

References:
CPT® 2017 Professional Edition, American Medical Association, pages 664-668
Federal Register, Vol. 81, No. 136, Pat. 46162, July 15, 2016, “Medicare Program; Revisions to Payment Policies Under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other revisions to Part B for CY 2017; Medicare Advantage Pricing Data Release: Medicare Advantage and Part D Medicare Advantage Provider Network Requirements’; Expansion of Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program Model”
AAPC Healthcare Business Monthly, November 2016

 

ICD-10Medical Billing and CodingMedisoft

It’s the holiday season….time to spread the Flu!

santa-hat

With all the weather changes we have experienced in the south over the past few months, getting the flu has been the last thing on anyone’s mind.  80 degree temps here in Kentucky in November is unheard of!  We’ve all been taking advantage of getting out in the fresh air (flu?  what flu?).

Well, now we are experiencing our first “Arctic Blast” and my first trip to Kroger this week resulted in witnessing probably the most embarrassing thing we as parents experience….projectile vomiting from a child in the grocery store.  Okay, maybe not the most embarrassing thing in the world but one that certainly had me running for the hand sanitizer and masks (no-I didn’t stick around to help).

And yes, remembering that in fact, the flu season is upon us.

Guidelines for Billing Influenza Vaccines

Medicare pays for one seasonal influenza virus vaccination per influenza season (12 months do not have to pass). Annual Part B deductible and coinsurance amounts do not apply for the influenza virus and the pneumococcal vaccinations. All physicians, non-physician practitioners, and suppliers who administer these vaccinations must take assignment on the claim for the vaccine.

Medicare will pay both administration fees when a beneficiary receives both the seasonal influenza virus and the pneumococcal vaccines on the same day. Report ICD-10-CM diagnosis code Z23 Encounter for immunization when an individual receives both vaccines, but report separate administration codes for the seasonal influenza virus (G0008) and pneumococcal (G0009) vaccines.

Medicare Payment Allowances for this flu season (8/1/2016-7/31/2017)

CPT® Code Payment Allowance
90630 Influenza split virus vaccine, quadrivalent (IIV4), preservative free, for intradermal use $20.343
90653 Influenza virus vaccine, inactivated, subunit, adjuvanted, for intramuscular use $37.383
90654 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, preservative-free, for intradermal use Pending
90655 Influenza virus vaccine, trivalent (IIV3), split virus, preservative free, 0.25 mL dosage, for intramuscular use Pending
90656 Influenza virus vaccine, trivalent (IIV3), split virus, preservative free, 0.5 mL dosage, for intramuscular use $17.717
90657 Influenza virus vaccine, trivalent (IIV3), split virus, when administered to children 6–35 months of age, for intramuscular use Pending
90661 Influenza virus vaccine, trivalent (ccIIV3), derived from cell cultures, subunit, preservative and antibiotic free, 0.5 mL dosage, for intramuscular use Pending
90662 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, preservative free, enhanced immunogenicity via increased antigen content, for intramuscular use $42.722
90672 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent, live (LAIV4), for intranasal use $26.876
90673 Influenza virus vaccine, trivalent (RIV3), derived from recombinant DNA (RIV3), hemagglutinin (HA) protein only, preservative and antibiotic free, for intramuscular use $40.613
90674 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent (ccIIV4), derived from cell cultures, subunit, preservative and antibiotic free, 0.5 mL dosage, for intramuscular use

*NOTE-Claims for this code must be held until 1/1/17

$22.936
90685 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent (IIV4), split virus, preservative free, 0.25 mL dosage, for intramuscular use $26.268
90686 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent (IIV4), split virus, preservative free, 0.5 mL dosage, for intramuscular use $19.032
90687 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent (IIV4), split virus, when administered to children 6–35 months of age, for intramuscular use $9.403
90688 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent (IIV4), split virus, 0.25 mL dosage, for intramuscular use $17.835

 

HCPCS Level II Code Payment Allowance
Q2035 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, when administered to individuals 3 years of age and older, for intramuscular use (Afluria) $16.284
Q2036 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, when administered to individuals 3 years of age and older, for intramuscular use (Flulaval) $16.284
Q2037 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, when administered to individuals 3 years of age and older, for intramuscular use (Fluvirin) Pending
Q2038 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, when administered to individuals 3 years of age and older, for intramuscular use (Fluzone) Pending
Q2039 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, when administered to individuals 3 years of age and older, for intramuscular use (not otherwise specified) Flu Vaccine Adult – Not Otherwise Classified: Payment allowance is to be determined by the local claims processing contractor.

The payment allowance for some codes is still pending. Check the CMS website periodically for updates.

Resources:

https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Part-B-Drugs/McrPartBDrugAvgSalesPrice/VaccinesPricing.html

https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/FFSProvPartProg/Provider-Partnership-Email-Archive-Items/2016-12-08-eNews.html?DLPage=1&DLEntries=10&DLSort=0&DLSortDir=descending#_Toc468862699