Quality-of-care focus is reflected among this year’s code changes.
The new code set for Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) has been released by the American Medical Association (AMA). The 2019 set includes 335 code changes, including code additions that reflect what the AMA says is “the tremendous potential of using connected health tools to better support clinicians in patient population health and care coordination services, and other novel delivery systems, that are vital for improving the overall quality of healthcare. The new CPT edition also reflects the AMA’s CPT editorial panel and the healthcare community’s combined annual effort to capture and describe the latest scientific and technological advances in medical, surgical and diagnostic services,” according to AMA officials.
“The CPT code set is the foundation upon which every element of the medical community — doctors, hospitals, allied health professionals, laboratories and payers — can efficiently share accurate information about medical services,” said Barbara L. McAneny, MD, president of the AMA. “The latest annual changes to the CPT code set reflect new technological and scientific advancements available to mainstream clinical practice, and ensure the code set can fulfill its trusted role as the health system’s common language for reporting contemporary medical procedures.”
Among the aforementioned additions are three new remote patient monitoring codes that reportedly reflect how healthcare professionals can more effectively and efficiently use technology to connect with their patients at home and gather data for care management and coordination. Also, two new interprofessional internet consultation codes have been added to reflect the increasing importance of using nonverbal communication technology to coordinate patient care between a consulting physician and a treating physician, according to the AMA.
“The AMA has urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to adopt the new codes for remote patient monitoring and internet consulting and designate the related services for payment under federal health programs in 2019,” McAneny said. “Medicare’s acceptance of the new codes would signal a landmark shift to better support physicians participating in patient population health and care coordination services that can be a significant part of a digital solution for improving the overall quality of medical care.”
Additional changes include new and revised codes for skin biopsy, fine needle aspiration biopsy, adaptive behavior analysis and central nervous system assessments, including psychological and neuropsychological testing. New Category I codes will be effective for reporting as of Jan. 1. The AMA has also developed resources for purchase (https://commerce.ama-assn.org/store) that provide detailed information on the new code changes in advance of the effective date.
The codes and descriptors can be imported into existing claims and billing software using the downloadable CPT 2019 Data File, which contains the updated code set’s complete descriptor package, including official descriptors for consumers and physicians, and the complete official CPT coding guidelines. Broad input from practicing physicians, medical specialty societies and the greater healthcare community was considered by the CPT editorial panel to produce the latest practical enhancements to CPT codes that reflect the coding demands of the modern healthcare system, according to the AMA.