medical billing

New Patient Image

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)

Can your current payment system store a card on file?

Most everyone likes the convenience of paying bills online.  It’s definitely my preference, since it seems most of the time I’m not home.  I am from the generation that is use to writing a check every month, and trying to remember to buy enough stamps, so I enjoy the convenience of going online and pay a bill with my credit card or setting up an auto payment to pull funds right from my checking account.  I like that I am emailed or sent a text of said funds have left my account-it’s just more convenient.  With my  Health Savings Account (HSA), I can also keep track of all my families medical expenses too and (again the word) conveniently pay with a debit card.

From a revenue standpoint in medical office, wouldn’t it be nice to give this convenience to your patients?  Especially for families like mine where there is college student making their own medical appointments (no way I am going to give him my debit card), or a spouse who can never remember to grab the HSA card from my wallet.

For medical practices using BillFlash,there is a way to now set up auto draft payments for patients.  There are two ways to do this-with StoredPay and with PlanPay.

StoredPay

With StoredPay, you’re able to make the authorized payment and email a receipt rather than just sending another bill and waiting to get paid. Securely store a payment method that you can use later as agreed with your patient.

PlanPay

PlanPay payments are not associated with any single bill/statement but are simply part of a plan to pay off an established liability like a car loan payment would do. Create and automate payments for payment plans/agreements you make with your patients (ex, payoff $2,400 liability by making a $100/mo. payment on the 15th of each month for 24 months).

Best thing of all-it’s easy to get started!  

Simply give us a call or email at(502) 538-4665 or sales@sunrize.com

Don’t currently use BillFlash and want to learn more?  Visit our website to view product information and see a video on how BillFlash works or give us a call!

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

 

Last Chance to get Medisoft V21 in 2016!

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Still waiting to upgrade your current Medisoft program?  Now is the time to order Medisoft V21 and still receive savings.  Especially at this time of the year-who doesn’t like to save money?

Call us today at 888-880-0384 to receive a customized quote for upgrading.

 

 

 

 

 

ICD-10 Walking Through the Workflow

With less than a year to go until the ICD-10 code set implementation deadline, physician practices should be pursuing a comprehensive plan designed to ensure a smooth coding transition with minimal cash flow disruption.

A key step in any ICD-10-CM transition strategy is to conduct a detailed assessment of existing workflows and processes to determine which elements will require modification, according to Bess Ann Bredemeyer, a consulting director with McKesson Business Performance Services (BPS).

By identifying each point in the claims lifecycle that ICD-10- CM will touch, appropriate adjustments can be made and simulations conducted to test the new processes against real-world conditions.

“The best way to proceed with an assessment is to begin at the patient encounter and then move through to the claim drop and denial management,” Bredemeyer said. “That way you won’t miss anything.”

Clinical Documentation  Whether the clinical documentation is sent directly to a coder or to data entry personnel, it is also important to ensure that any changes in National Coverage Determinations (NCDs) and payer’s Local Carrier Determinations (LCDs) are incorporated and reflected in the claim. A good approach includes:

  • Identifying the top 50 most utilized diagnoses codes
  • Evaluating where additional documentation will be required
  • Mapping out modifications to support appropriate reimbursement
  • Updating charge tickets, super-bills and other revenue cycle tools

This is a Test  With all the elements theoretically in place, it is critical to begin testing your new workflow to determine if it can handle ICD-10-CM. Code audits can assess both clinical documentation and coding to determine whether the claims should come through clean or not. A real-world testing process may also reveal previously unknown problems that would otherwise remain hidden until the ICD-10 go-live.

Don’t Be Denied  Because of the complexity of ICD-10-CM and the sheer magnitude of the change, it’s reasonable to assume that even the best-laid plans may encounter some unexpected problems. For that reason, it makes sense to be prepared for a rise in denials. For physician practices, that means ensuring that staffing is adequate to manage an increase in volume, and that problems will be quickly identified and remediated.

“There is no denying that the transition to the new code set will require planning and resources to mitigate the burden of change,” Bredemeyer said. “That’s why you should get started now on developing a workflow analysis impact assessment that will help you develop a detailed ICD-10 timeline and budget.”

Article Resource:

ReveNEWS, Industry Spotlight, “Walking Through the Workflow- An Important First Step,” November 2013 edition located on the McKesson ReveNEWS website

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