The American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) 2020 update of the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code set — involving almost 400 code changes — reflects a continued expansion of medicine beyond the walls of physicians‘ offices, with new entries for home-based blood pressure monitoring and online digital evaluation services.
The 2020 update includes 394 code changes, including 248 new codes, 71 deletions, and 75 revisions.
In the view of AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, these additions to healthcare’s bedrock set of billing codes mark a return to an older view on medical care.
“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 in a September 4 statement announcing the CPT update.
The 2020 CPT update includes six new codes for reporting online digital evaluation services, or e-visits, the AMA said. These codes cover patient-initiated digital communications with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional (99421, 99422, 99423) or a nonphysician healthcare professional (98970, 98971, 98972), the AMA said.
The AMA also announced the addition of CPT codes (99473, 99474) for reporting self-measured blood pressure monitoring. This home-based approach can help patients who would otherwise struggle to pay for medical care or have to travel long distances for this monitoring, the AMA said.
In addition, 2020 changes include new codes for health and behavior assessment and intervention services (96156, 96158, 96164, 96167, 96170 and add-on codes 96159, 96165, 96168, 96171). The AMA said these codes will replace six older codes “to more accurately reflect current clinical practice that increasingly emphasizes interdisciplinary care coordination and teamwork with physicians in primary care and specialty settings.”
The AMA said one of the major 2020 changes to the CPT involves “significant enhancement in the codes for reporting long term electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring services (95700-95726).
“These important services monitor the electrical activity of the brain and are critical to the diagnosis of patients with epilepsy. Four older codes were deleted to make way for 23 new codes that provide better clarity around the services reported by a technologist, a physician, or another qualified health care provider,” the AMA said.
The AMA describes its CPT code set, which dates to 1966, as “the health system’s common language.”
The 2020 CPT codes and descriptors can be imported directly into existing claims and billing software using the downloadable CPT 2020 Data File, according to the AMA.
“The file contains the updated code set’s complete descriptor package, including official descriptors for consumers and physicians, and the complete official CPT coding guidelines,” the AMA said in its statement.
New CPT category I codes will be effective for reporting starting January 1, 2020.