Telemedicine crossed another milestone this week in a long march toward validation as a new American Medical Association group met to develop additional billing codes for the services.
Medicare already accepts claims submitted with more than a dozen additional Common Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes (PDF) for telehealth visits, including those for office visits, consultations in hospital emergency departments, smoking cessation services, alcohol abuse and depression screenings. This year, the CMS added annual wellness visits, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and prolonged evaluation and management services to its list of reimbursable services provided via telehealth.
An ad hoc AMA group was formed to expedite recommendations from physicians' groups, hospitals and others for new telemedicine codes for additional healthcare services. It also will review the accuracy of the current crop of codes and make recommendations for new codes that should be developed, according to the AMA. The group met face to face for the first time this week in Philadelphia during the CPT Editorial Panel's annual meeting.
More than 50 subject matter experts are expected to participate in the telemedicine coding group.
“Input from the telehealth services workgroup will help the CPT code set reflect new technological and telehealth advancements available to mainstream clinical practice, and ensures the code set can fulfill its role as the health system's common language for reporting contemporary medical procedures,” AMA President Dr. Steven Stack said in a news release. “Tapping into the clinical and technological expertise of the healthcare community and innovators produces the practical enhancements that CPT needs to reflect the coding demands of the modern healthcare system.”
A 2014 report by the Deloitte consulting firm estimated there were 75 million virtual visits in North America last year while a Towers Watson survey indicated 37% of employers planned to offer their workers telemedicine consultations this year.