2020 Changes to the CPT Codes Are Now in Effect
In September, the American Medical Association (AMA) released the 2020 changes to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code set, which is used throughout the health care system for medical coding to document and bill for medical procedures and services.
The code is updated annually to keep it relevant, and the changes became effective as of January 1, 2020. This is not only important for all medical practitioners because new codes were added, but also because many codes were deleted. Submission of claims with any of these now obsolete codes will result in denied claims.
Annual CPT Update
The CPT Editorial Panel reviews input from medical specialty societies, physicians and other stakeholders in the health care arena. The 2020 update included about 400 changes, consisting of deletions, revisions and nearly 250 new codes.
Direction of Medical Coding Changes in 2020
The entire set of code changes and descriptors can be downloaded from AMA and imported directly into billing and claims software. The following are some of the changes that are included in the latest code update.
- Digital Communication Tools: Patient portals and other new digital tools were responsible for some of this year’s changes. New codes allow physicians and non-physician health care professionals to report “e-visits,” patient-initiated communications for evaluation services performed online. Physicians can use these to interact with their patients who lack access to the office for any of a variety of reasons, making it much easier for these patients to receive quality care.
- Health Monitoring: New codes allow for patients to report self-administered blood pressure monitoring results. This can improve long term care and also decrease the negative impact of socioeconomic and geographic barriers to getting to a health care facility.
- Interdisciplinary Care Coordination: New and add-on codes have been developed to support the current emphasis on interdisciplinary care and coordination between primary care and specialty practitioners in the area of health behavior assessment and intervention.
- Long Term EEG Monitoring: Electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring of electrical brain activity is a vital part of epilepsy diagnosis. A few codes have been deleted and 23 new ones replace them to improve clarity for the services being provided.
The above are just a few of the areas where changes have been made to the CPT codes. Anyone doing medical coding and billing should research the code changes for their area of specialization in addition to any modifications of more general areas.
Up-to-date software is critical for successful medical coding and billing, so make sure the 2020 CPT code updates have been imported into any programs you are using. Medical coding and billing is complex enough without having to deal with unnecessary claim denials resulting from an outdated code being used.
Insurers and payers do not offer a grace period for making changes. An incorrect code will cause a denial even if it was used for the same patient 30 days ago, if it has been changed in the new code set, and resolving denials takes much more time than getting the coding right in the first place.
Medcare MSO handles all aspects of medical revenue cycle management (RCM) and has an extremely successful history of increasing revenue for our clients. Give us a call today at 800-640-6409, so we can help get your practice up to date and maximize your revenue.