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What Practice Needs to Know About Medical Coding Changes in 2020

December 31, 2019

Medical Coding StaffOnce the new year arrives and the holidays pass, you’ll need to settle into a new routine and get back on track after a chaotic but fun holiday season. A new year means a fresh start in many ways, and coding is no exception. American Medical Association (AMA) recently released medical coding changes in 2020, your practice should be aware of these changes and be ready to respond and comply as needed.

New Coding Changes for 2020 Released by AMA

The latest changes are mostly updates to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes that will be available for use in the new year. Overall there are more than 300 changes, some are new codes, others are removals and about 75 are revisions to existing codes. These changes take effect on the first day of the year, so you should be up to date and ready to go by January 1, 2020.

CPT code changes for 2020 are broad in nature, many of the new codes are designed to give doctors more way to bill for virtual and remote visits. Both e-visits and telemedicine continue to be on the rise in popularity, so some new codes are designed to make it easier for doctors and facilities to offer these services – for patients who are unable to visit the office, telemedicine services can provide needed care and keep even mild illnesses from turning into emergency room visits.

Other new codes are designed to make it easier to bill for remote patient monitoring. Patient monitoring has proven to be helpful with medication and medical direction compliance and it can even help identify signs of trouble in at risk populations. Hospitalizations and emergency room visits are dramatically reduced when remote patient monitoring in in place, particularly for elderly patients. Providers report an average of 25% fewer hospitalizations and ER visits occur when remote monitoring is in place, making it a beneficial process for all involved. The latest additions to the CPT code support more options for billing for remote patient care and monitoring and are new for 2020.

As changes continue to shape the way the healthcare sector evolves, coding is expected to keep up – with code enhancements and changes designed to support better patient care and easier, more efficient billing practices. According to AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D:

 “With the advance of new technologies for e-visits and health monitoring, many patients are realizing the best access point for physician care is once again their home,” said Harris. “The new CPT codes will promote the integration of these home-based services that can be a significant part of a digital solution for expanding access to healthcare, preventing and managing chronic disease and overcoming geographic and socioeconomic barriers to care.”

Changed and New Codes for 2020

New CPT codes are arriving to serve the needs of the digital and remote medical tools described above, and for patient portals. An additional six new codes were added specifically for telemedicine and online visits for minor illness and injury.

New CPT codes for remote patient monitoring, including in-home blood pressure monitoring done by family caregivers or patients at home.

New CPT Codes for behavioral and intervention assessments and services. These are new codes, but will be replacing six older codes that are being retired. The new codes are designed to reflect changes in the industry and to better allow for a wider continuum of care. These new codes should facilitate better communication between primary care providers and treatment and intervention brands.

New CPT for cardiovascular services and healthcare; 6 new codes target care and procedures to the pericardium area. Codes vary for the type of procedure and age of patient. 

Significant changes to the coding used for breast surgery and reconstruction; with two deletions.  Breast surgery codes slated for revision include 11970, 11971, 19318, 19325, 19328, 19330, 19340, 19342, 19357, 19361, 19364, 19367, 19368, 19370, 19371, and 19380. Codes 19324 Mammaplasty, augmentation; without prosthetic implant and 19366 Breast reconstruction with other technique are slated for deletion.

Changes to the way that long term EEG monitoring is coded – 4 old codes were removed and 23 new ones were added to reflect the growing use of this technology.

Deletion of  several procedure codes, including 32405 Biopsy, lung or mediastinum, percutaneous needle

THe complete list of changes is available via the American Medical Association. Learning what to expect in 2020 allows you to be prepared for the coming coding changes and to increase efficiency and cash flow in your own facility. Need help preparing for the changes — or want to revolutionize the way your billing works? We can help! Get in touch to day to discover what we can do for you and to see just how well your medical business could prosper in 2020.


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