Definition of New Patient for Selection of E/M Visit Code
Interpret the phrase â€śnew patientâ€ť to mean a patient who has not received any professional services, i.e., E/M service or other face-to-face service (e.g., surgical procedure) from the physician or physician group practice (same physician specialty) within the previous 3 years. For example, if a professional component of a previous procedure is billed in a 3 year time period, e.g., a lab interpretation is billed and no E/M service or other face-to-face service with the patient is performed, then this patient remains a new patient for the initial visit. An interpretation of a diagnostic test, reading an x-ray or EKG etc., in the absence of an E/M service or other face-to-face service with the patient does not affect the designation of a new patient.
When you change practices
Consider this scenario: Suppose you leave the practice where you have been working for a number of years to join a new group in a nearby community. Some of your patients transfer their care to the new practice and see you within three years of their last visits. You would report these encounters using an established patient code because, although you are practicing in a new group, you have provided professional services to the patient during the last three years. Note that whether the patient has transferred his or her medical records to your office and how long you may have had those records is irrelevant. The amount of time thatâ€™s passed since your last encounter with the patient is the determining factor.
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