On July 1, 2022, the American Medical Association (AMA) released a preview of the 2023 CPT Documentation Guidelines for Evaluation and Management (E/M) services. These changes reflect a once-in-a-generation restructuring of the guidelines for choosing a level of emergency department (ED) E/M visit impacting roughly 85 percent of the relative value units (RVUs) for typical members. Since 1992, a visit level was based on a combination of history, physical exam, and medical decision-making elements. Beginning in 2023, the emergency department E/M services will be based only on medical decision making.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 41 – No 10 – October 2022
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) represents the specialty in the AMA current procedural technology (CPT) and AMA/Specialty Society RVS Update Committee (RUC) processes. In fact, they are your only voice in those arenas. The AMA convened a joint CPT/RUC work group to refine the guidelines based on accepted guiding principles. Although the full CPT code set for 2023 has not yet been released, the AMA recognized that specialties needed to have access to the documentation guidelines changes early to educate both their physicians on what to document and their coders on how to extract the elements needed to determine the appropriate level of care based on chart documentation. Additionally, any electronic medical record or documentation template changes will need to be in place prior to January 1, 2023, to maintain efficient cash flows and ensure appropriate code assignment.
ACEP was able to convince the Joint CPT/RUC Workgroup that time should not be a descriptive element for choosing ED levels of service because emergency department services are typically provided on a variable intensity basis, often involving multiple encounters with several patients over an extended period of time. It would be nearly impossible to track accurate times spent on every patient under concurrent active management.