office visit CPT code - 99201 - 99205 - does require referring physician ?


CPT code 99201: Office or other outpatient visit for the evaluation and management of a new patient, which requires these 3 key components: A problem focused history; A problem focused examination; Straightforward medical decision making. Counseling and/or coordination of care with other providers or agencies are provided consistent with the nature of the problem(s) and the patient's and/or family's needs. Usually, the presenting problem(s) are self limited or minor. Physicians typically spend 10 minutes face-to-face with the patient and/or family.

The 99201 code has more specific requirements than 99211 when it comes to elements of the history, purgative and medical decision making. In addition, 99201 is not to be used for nursing visits, as the physician needs to see the patient and establish a care plan before nurses' visits can be billed.


Time Period for CPT 99201 - 99205

CPT 99201 - 10 Minute
CPT 99202 - 20 Minute
CPT 99203 - 30 Minute
CPT 99204 - 45 Munute
CPT 99205 - 60 Minute

Billing with Preventive code

A preventive E/M visit with a problem-oriented service. Use a CPT preventive medicine service code (99381-99397) plus the appropriate E/M code (99201-99215) with modifier 25 attached to show that the services were significant and separate. Link the appropriate ICD-9 code(s) to each CPT code to help distinguish the services. Note that not all payers will reimburse for both preventive and problem-oriented services on the same date

The preventive E/M visit with a problem-oriented service When a patient comes into the office for a routine preventive examination, and has significant new complaints (e.g., chest pain or irregular bleeding) and, in some instances, a new or established chronic condition (e.g., hypertension or type-II diabetes), the visit becomes a  combination of preventive and problem-oriented care. As long as the problem-oriented service is clearly documented and distinct from the documentation of the preventive service, CPT suggests submitting a preventive medicine services code (99381-99397) for the routine exam, and the appropriate office visit code (99201-99215) with modifier –25,” significant, separately identifiable [E/M] service by the same physician on the same day of the procedure or other service," attached to the problem-oriented service. It's also especially important to link the appropriate ICD-9 code to the applicable CPT code in these cases to help distinguish between preventive and problem-oriented services

Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in our time identify the current procedural terminology as the level one of the healthcare common procedure coding system. The cpt code 99201 denotes problem focused in the history and physical exam sections of records of new office patients.

In general, the CPT codes range from 99201 to 99499 indicates evaluation and management.  The current procedural terminology code 99201 to 99215 denotes office or other outpatient services. You have to know about these codes when you have geared up for enhancing your proficiency in the current procedural terminology day after day.

The cpt code used for indicating the level 1 new patient office visit is 99201.  As the lowest level care for every new patient in the medical office, 99201 assists all healthcare professionals and people who work in the medical sector to know about the new patient office visit directly. 

The overall health problems of these patients are minor or self-limited. The most competitive price of treatment for patients who have 99201 for new office visit nowadays attracts people who think about the cost of the initial healthcare treatment.  

There are three important elements in the documentation associated with the level 1 new patient office visit 99201. These elements are problem focused history, problem focused exam and straightforward medical decision making.  If there is current procedural terminology based on time, then patients consult with medical professionals face to face and use this appropriate documentation.


Beginners to CPT these days seek the definition of new patient. They have to keep in mind that a new patient is one who has not received any healthcare treatment from any medical professional within the past three years. An established patient is a patient who has received professional medical services from physicians in the same group within the past three years.    People who focus on the history, exam, medical decision making and typical face to face time in the new patient office visit level 1 record can get the complete details about healthcare issues of the patient. 




SELECTING CORRECT CPT CODING GUIDELINES

Select the appropriate code based on the level of service provided when you are seeing a new patient for initial evaluation of a neuromusculoskeletal condition or injury.


Documentation in the clinical record must support the level of service as coded and billed. The Key Components - History, Examination, and Medical Decision Making - must be considered in determining the appropriate code (level of service) to be assigned for a given visit.

• Select code that best represents the services furnished during the visit.

• A billing specialist or alternate source may review the provider’s documented services before the claim is submitted to a payer.

• Reviewers may assist with selecting codes, however, it is the provider’s responsibility to ensure that the submitted claim accurately reflects the services provided.

• Ensure that medical record documentation supports the level of service reported to a payer.

• The volume of documentation does not determine which specific level of service is billed.

• Remember - medical necessity is the overarching criteria for coverage.

Note: for new patients, all three key components must meet or exceed the above requirements for a given level of service; for established patients, two of the three key components must meet or exceed the requirements.

CPT Code 99205 OFFICE OUTPATIENT NEW 60 MINUTES

Office or other outpatient visit for the evaluation and management of a new patient, which requires these three key components: a comprehensive history; a comprehensive examination; and medical decision making of high complexity.

Counseling and/or coordination of care with other providers or agencies are provided consistent with the nature of the problem(s) and the patient's and/or family's needs. Usually, the presenting problem(s) are of moderate to high severity.

 Physicians typically spend 60 minutes face-to-face with the patient and/or family.


Requirement for CPT code 99205

Comprehensive history includes:

• Chief complaint/reason for admission
• Extended history of present illness
• Review of systems directly related to the problem(s) identified in the history of present illness
• Medically necessary review of ALL body systems’ history
• Medically necessary complete past, family and social history
• Four or more elements of the HPI or the status of at least three (3) chronic or inactive conditions, noting that medical necessity is ALWAYS the overarching criterion.

HPI – History of Present Illness: 

A chronological description of the development of the patient’s present illness from the first sign and/or symptom or from the previous encounter to the present. 
Descriptions of present illness may include:
• Location
• Quality
• Severity
• Timing
• Context
• Modifying factors
• Associated signs/symptoms significantly related to the presenting problem(s)

Chief Complaint: The Chief Complaint is a concise statement from the patient describing:

• The symptom
• Problem
• Condition
• Diagnosis
• Physician recommended return, or other factor that is the reason for the encounter

Review of Systems: An inventory of body systems obtained through a series of questions seeking to identify signs and/or symptoms which the patient may be experiencing or has experienced.

For purpose of Review of Systems the following systems are recognized:
• Constitutional (i.e., fever, weight loss)
• Eyes
• Ears, Nose, Mouth Throat
• Cardiovascular
• Respiratory
• Gastrointestinal
• Genitourinary
• Musculoskeletal
• Integumentary
(skin and/or breast)
• Neurologic
• Psychiatric
• Endocrine
• Hematologic/Lymphatic
• Allergic/Immunologic

Past, Family, And/or Social History (PFSH): Consists of a review of the following:
• Past history (the patient’s past experiences with illnesses, operations, injuries and treatments) 
• Family history (a review of medical events in the patient’s family, including diseases which may be hereditary or place the patient at risk)

• Social History (an age appropriate review of past and current activities)

Q: How should the initial OB visit be reported?


A: Per ACOG guidelines, if the OB record is not initiated, then the office place of service visit should be reported separately by using the appropriate E/M CPT code (99201-99215, 99241-99245 and 99341-99350) and ICD-9-CM diagnosis code of V72.42 to be used on or before date of service September 30, 2015 or ICD-10-CM diagnosis code of Z32.01 to be used on or after date of service October 01, 2015. If the OB record is initiated during the confirmatory visit, then the confirmatory visit becomes part of the global OB package and is not reported separately.

Evaluation and Management Service Codes - General (Codes 99201 - 99499)


A. Use of CPT Codes Advise physicians to use CPT codes (level 1 of HCPCS) to code physician services, including evaluation and management services. Medicare will pay for E/M services for specific non-physician practitioners (i.e., nurse practitioner (NP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and certified nurse midwife (CNM)) whose Medicare benefit permits them to bill these services. A physician assistant (PA) may also provide a physician service, however, the physician collaboration and general supervision rules as well as all billing rules apply to all the above non-physician practitioners. The service provided must be medically necessary and the service must be within the scope of practice for a non-physician practitioner in the State in which he/she practices. Do not pay for CPT evaluation and management codes billed by physical therapists in independent practice or by occupational therapists in independent practice.

Medical necessity of a service is the overarching criterion for payment in addition to the individual requirements of a CPT code. It would not be medically necessary or appropriate to bill a higher level of evaluation and management service when a lower level of service is warranted. The volume of documentation should not be the primary influence upon which a specific level of service is billed. Documentation should support the level of service reported. The service should be documented during, or as soon as practicable after it is provided in order to maintain an accurate medical record.

B. Selection of Level Of Evaluation and Management Service

Instruct physicians to select the code for the service based upon the content of the service. The duration of the visit is an ancillary factor and does not control the level of the service to be billed unless more than 50 percent of the face-to-face time (for non-inpatient services) or more than 50 percent of the floor time (for inpatient services) is spent providing counseling or coordination of care as described in subsection C. Any physician or non-physician practitioner (NPP) authorized to bill Medicare services will be paid by the carrier at the appropriate physician fee schedule amount based on the rendering UPIN/PIN.

"Incident to" Medicare Part B payment policy is applicable for office visits when the requirements for "incident to" are met.

CPT code 99202: Office or other outpatient visit for the evaluation and management of a new patient, which requires these 3 key components: An expanded problem focused history; An expanded problem focused examination; Straightforward medical decision making. Counseling and/or coordination of care with other providers or agencies are provided consistent with the nature of the problem(s) and the patient's and/or family's needs. Usually, the presenting problem(s) are of low to moderate severity. Physicians typically spend 20 minutes face-to-face with the patient and/or family.

CPT code 99203: Office or other outpatient visit for the evaluation and management of a new patient, which requires these 3 key components: A detailed history; A detailed examination; Medical decision making of low complexity. Counseling and/or coordination of care with other providers or agencies are provided consistent with the nature of the problem(s) and the patient's and/or family's needs. Usually, the presenting problem(s) are of moderate severity. Physicians typically spend 30 minutes face-to-face with the patient and/or family.

CPT code 99204: Office or other outpatient visit for the evaluation and management of a new patient, which requires these 3 key components: A comprehensive history; A comprehensive examination; Medical decision making of moderate complexity. Counseling and/or coordination of care with other providers or agencies are provided consistent with the nature of the problem(s) and the patient's and/or family's needs. Usually, the presenting problem(s) are of moderate to high severity. Physicians typically spend 45 minutes face-to-face with the patient and/or family.

CPT code 99205: Office or other outpatient visit for the evaluation and management of a new patient, which requires these 3 key components: A comprehensive history; A comprehensive examination; Medical decision making of high complexity. Counseling and/or coordination of care with other providers or agencies are provided consistent with the nature of the problem(s) and the patient's and/or family's needs. Usually, the presenting problem(s) are of moderate to high severity. Physicians typically spend 60 minutes face-to-face with the patient and/or family.


Evaluation & management tips: Office or other outpatient services, new patient

Key points to remember

The key components (elements of service) of evaluation & management (E/M) services are:
1. History,
2. Examination, and
3. Medical decision-making.
When billing office or other outpatient services for new patients, all three key components must be fully documented in order to bill. When counseling and/or coordination of care dominates (more than 50 percent) the physician/patient and/or family encounter (face-to-face time in the office or other outpatient setting), then time may be considered the key or controlling factor to qualify for a particular level of E/M services. The extent of such time must be documented in the medical record.
Current Procedural Terminology� codes and requirements

99201 - 10 minutes (average)
• Problem focused history. Documentation needed:
• Chief complaint
• Brief history of present illness
• Problem focused examination. Documentation needed:
• Limited examination of the affected body area or organ system
• Medical decision making that is straightforward. Documentation needed (2 of 3 below must be met or exceeded):
• Minimal number of diagnoses or management options
• None or minimal amount and/or complexity of data to be reviewed
• Minimal risk of significant complications, morbidity and/or mortality

99202 - 20 minutes (average)
• Expanded problem focused history. Documentation needed:
• Chief complaint
• Brief history of present illness
• Problem pertinent review of systems
• Expanded problem focused examination. Documentation needed:
• Limited examination of the affected body area or organ system and any other symptomatic or related body area(s) or organ system(s)
• Medical decision making that is straightforward. Documentation needed (2 of 3 below must be met or exceeded):
• Minimal number of diagnoses or management options
• None or minimal amount and/or complexity of data to be reviewed
• Minimal risk of significant complications, morbidity and/or mortality

99203 - 30 minutes (average)
• Detailed history. Documentation needed:
• Chief complaint
• Extended history of present illness
• Extended review of systems
• Pertinent past, family and/or social history
• Detailed examination. Documentation needed:
• Extended examination of the affected body area(s) or organ system(s) and any other symptomatic or related body area(s) or organ system(s)
• Medical decision making that is of low complexity. Documentation needed (2 of 3 below must be met or exceeded):
• Limited number of diagnoses or management options
• Limited amount and/or complexity of data to be reviewed
• Low risk of significant complications, morbidity and/or mortality

99204 - 45 minutes (average)
• Comprehensive history. Documentation needed:
• Chief complaint
• Extended history of present illness
• Complete review of systems
• Complete past, family and/or social history
• Comprehensive examination. Documentation needed:
• A general multi-system examination OR complete examination of single organ system and other symptomatic or related body area(s) or 8 or more organ system(s)
• Medical decision making that is of moderate complexity. Documentation needed (2 of 3 below must be met or exceeded):
• Multiple number of diagnoses or management options
• Moderate amount and/or complexity of data to be reviewed
• Moderate risk of significant complications, morbidity and/or mortality

99205 - 60 minutes (average)
• Comprehensive history. Documentation needed:
• Chief complaint
• Extended history of present illness
• Complete review of systems
• Complete past, family and/or social history
• Comprehensive examination. Documentation needed:
• A general multi-system examination OR complete examination of single organ system and other symptomatic or related body area(s) or 8 or more organ system(s)
• Medical decision making that is of high complexity. Documentation needed (2 of 3 below must be met or exceeded):
• Extensive number of diagnoses or management options
• Extensive amount and/or complexity of data to be reviewed
• High risk of significant complications, morbidity and/or mortality

Coding Question: Is it required by Medicare and Medicaid to have a referring physician in order to be able to bill for a new patient evaluation? If so, what should one do if the patient self refers himself/herself to you because of reputation/friend etc.?

Coding Response: 
The CMS definition for a new patient states that, “such a patient would be regarded as a new patient, a patient who has not received any professional services from the physician or another physician of the same specialty who belongs to the same group practice within the last three years.” Therefore, any patient presenting him/herself to you would be regarded as a new patient. Effective January 1, 2010, CMS has eliminated payment for the office or other outpatient consultation codes 99241- 99245. The office and other outpatient visit codes for new patients (99201- 99205) are still recognized for reimbursement by CMS and may be used to report any new patient being seen in your practice. As a result of these changes, there is no distinction between a patient who is referred by a physician or one who is self referred; for Medicare they are both considered a new patient.  The E/M codes that can be used are CPT codes 99201 – 99205.



CPT code 99241: Office consultation for a new or established patient, which requires these 3 components:  a problem focused history, a problem focused examination, and straightforward medical decision making.

CPT code 99242: Office consultation for a new or established patient, which requires these 3 components:  an expanded problem focused history, an expanded problem focused examination, and straightforward medical decision making.

CPT code 99243: Office consultation for a new or established patient, which requires these 3 components:  a detailed history, a detailed examination, and medical decision making of low complexity.

CPT code 99244: Office consultation for a new or established patient, which requires these 3 components:  a comprehensive history, a comprehensive examination, and medical decision making of moderate complexity.

CPT code 99245: Office consultation for a new or established patient, which requires these 3 components:  a comprehensive history, a comprehensive examination, and medical decision making of high complexity.

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