Pulmonary, critical care, and sleep physicians often provide services to patients, as well as consultative services to other health-care professionals, without a patient being present. This can be done via telephone or electronic (internet or electronic health record) communications. Many are not aware that Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) codes were published to describe and define the work involved in these services. In 2019, there will be additional CPT codes available for health-care workers to use for these non-face-to-face services.
Telephone services are reported using CPT codes 99441-99443 and may be used for evaluation and management (E/M) services provided by telephone for an established patient that do not result in a patient visit within the next 24 hours or are associated with an E/M visit from the last 7 days.
99441 Telephone evaluation and management service by a physician or other qualified health-care professional who may report evaluation and management services provided to an established patient, parent, or guardian not originating from a related E/M serv ice provided within the previous 7 days nor leading to an E/M service or procedure within the next 24 hours or soonest available appointment; 5-10 minutes of medical discussion
99442 11-20 minutes of medical discussion
99443 21-30 minutes of medical discussion
These codes may not be reported by a provider more frequently than every 7 days. The details of the service should be documented in the medical record.
If the E/M service is prompted by an online patient request, then CPT code 99444 can be used.
99444 Online evaluation and management service provided by a physician or other qualified health care professional who may report evaluation and management services provided to an established patient or guardian, not originating from a related E/M service provided within the previous 7 days, using the internet or similar electronic communications network.
This code may be reported only every 7 days and can not be related to a previous E/M evaluation in the last 7 days or to a previous surgical procedure. The service includes all of the communication (eg, related telephone calls, prescription provision, laboratory orders) pertaining to the online patient encounter.
There are also CPT codes for Interprofessional Telephone/Internet/Electronic Health Record Consultations. These codes are used when one health-care provider requests the opinion and/or treatment advice of another provider (consultant) for either a new or established patient without face-to-face contact between the patient and the consultant.
99446 Interprofessional telephone/Internet/electronic health record assessment and management service provided by a consultative physician, including a verbal and written report to the patient’s treating/requesting physician or other qualified health care professional; 5-10 minutes of medical consultative discussion and review.
99447 11-20 minutes of medical consultative discussion and review
99448 21-30 minutes of medical consultative discussion and review
99449 31 minutes or more of medical consultative discussion and review
These codes are not used if the consultant has seen the patient in a face-to-face encounter within the last 14 days or the consultation results in a transfer of care or other face-to-face service with the consultant within the next 14 days. In addition, greater than 50% of the service time reported must be devoted to the medical consultative verbal or internet discussion. The request and reason for telephone/internet/electronic health record consultation by the requesting health-care professional should be documented in the patient’s medical record. After an oral report from the consultant is provided to the treating/requesting physician, a written report should be documented in the medical record. Consultations of less than 5 minutes should not be reported.
As noted, CPT codes 99446-49 require an oral and written report. A new code is added for 2019.
99451 Interprofessional telephone/Internet/electronic health record assessment and management service provided by a consultative physician, including a written report to the patient’s treating/requesting physician or other qualified health care professional, 5 minutes or more of medical consultative time.
CPT code 99451 describes a consultative service lasting more than 5 minutes and requires only a written report to the requesting physician. This was added recognizing that oral communications do not always occur between healthcare professionals and may facilitate consultative services in geographic areas with no specialists available.
99452 Interprofessional telephone/Internet/electronic health record referral service(s) provided by a treating/requesting physician or other qualified health care professional, 30 minutes.
CPT code 99452 is reported for 16-30 minutes preparing for the referral and/or communicating with a consultant. If more than 30 minutes is spent by the treating/requesting healthcare provider, then one would use a prolonged services code (99358-59).
As with all coding and billing issues, review the CPT manual for parentheticals that describe coding rules not included in the code description. In addition, not all CPT codes are paid by all providers. Knowledge of payer policies is, therefore, important for appropriate reimbursement.