Gastroenterology, like many other specialties, has seen its fair share of changes in billing and coding. These changes, often initiated to streamline processes and ensure better patient care, have implications for both practitioners and administrative staff. Let’s delve into the intricacies of the changes that have shaped gastroenterology billing and coding.
The American Medical Association (AMA) periodically releases new Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes that replace outdated ones. These new codes can pertain to new procedures, technologies, or updates that better describe the work being performed.
For instance, in recent years, there have been introductions of codes related to advanced endoscopic procedures, such as endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
Modifiers are essential in gastroenterology billing, as they provide additional information about a service rendered. The usage and requirements for specific modifiers can change, affecting reimbursement. One common modifier in gastroenterology is the “-53” modifier, used for discontinued procedures. Ensure you’re up-to-date with the specific scenarios where modifiers are necessary to avoid claim rejections.
With the global pandemic impacting outpatient visits, there’s been a surge in telehealth services across specialties, including gastroenterology. As such, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced several temporary and, in some cases, permanent measures to expand telehealth services. This included specific billing codes for telehealth consultations, which gastroenterologists need to be aware of.
The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) is vital for diagnosis coding. Each year, updates to these codes occur, with new codes added, and old ones being retired or revised. Gastroenterology practices must keep abreast of these changes, especially for prevalent conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and others.
Accurate documentation is the backbone of correct billing and coding. As policies shift, so do documentation requirements. For instance, the specifics around documenting endoscopic procedures have seen changes, necessitating that practitioners provide comprehensive notes about the procedures, findings, and any interventions.
CMS often revisits the bundling policies to ensure that related procedures are billed together. This can affect reimbursement rates and necessitates awareness on the part of gastroenterology practices. In some cases, what was once billed separately might now be bundled, or vice versa.
The Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and other quality reporting programs have specific measures for gastroenterologists. As these measures are periodically reviewed and updated, practices need to adapt both their clinical and billing practices to meet these evolving benchmarks.
Changes in gastroenterology billing and coding can be intricate, but staying informed is crucial for seamless practice management and optimal reimbursement. By understanding these changes and adapting accordingly, gastroenterology practices can continue to offer exemplary patient care without administrative hassles. Always refer to AMA, CMS, and specialty-specific societies for the latest updates and guidelines.