Validating CPT typical times for Medicare office evaluation and management (E/M) services
Every 5 years, the federal government reviews the Medicare Fee Schedule for changes in the work effort physicians personally devote to office visits. Using physician face-to-face times reported in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Ambulatory Care Survey (NAMCS), guideline office visit times associated with the 1997-1998 mix of Medicare claims averaged 9 percent longer versus NAMCS; Medicare billed visits with new patients were 32 percent longer. Surgeons and dermatologists had the largest discrepancies in Medicare versus NAMCS times. If CPT guideline times currently in use are now overstated, then intraservice work effort is likely overstated given the high correlation of time with work effort, and Medicare payment levels need to be reduced. Upcoding visit content to higher paid CPT visit codes may also explain seemingly longer Medicare billed times and call for payment reductions as well
Cromwell, J., Hoover, S., McCall, N., & Braun, P. (2006). Validating CPT typical times for Medicare office evaluation and management (E/M) services. Medical Care Research and Review, 63(2), 236-255.