349 ways CPT codes set prepares physicians for practicing in 2024

Andis Robeznieks , Senior News Writer

The consumer-friendly descriptors attached to the more than 11,000 Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) codes are incorporated into medical documents, insurance forms, price sheets and patient portals and serve as important resources for many hospitals, health plans and medical offices.

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To bridge language barriers, the newly released 2024 CPT code set includes these descriptors in Spanish, helping make the navigation of medical care and its accompanying paperwork more transparent for patients with limited English or speak English as a second language.

“Providing approximately 41 million Spanish-speaking individuals in the United States with an easy-to-understand description of medical procedures and services can help build a more inclusive health care environment, where language is no longer a barrier and patients can actively engage in their own care,” said Lori Prestesater, AMA senior vice president of health solutions.

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The CPT code set, which describes 11,163 medical services and procedures, keeps evolving to match the rapid pace of innovation in medical science and health technology. The annual update includes 349 editorial changes—including 230 additions, 49 deletions and 70 revisions.

One important change involves the consolidation of more than 50 previous codes to streamline reporting of immunizations for COVID-19. Also, a new vaccine-administration code, 90480, was approved for reporting the administration of any COVID-19 vaccine for any patient. This replaces all previously approved, product-specific vaccine-administration codes.

Other additions respond to product-specific innovations in the prevention of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Five new CPT codes have been created to report product-specific RSV immunizations: 90380, 90381, 90683, 90679 and 90678. These codes will provide better tracking to support data-driven planning and allocation.

Clarifications sought by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) prompted revisions to the code set that clarify reporting of evaluation and management (E/M) services. They include:

  • Removal of time ranges from office or other outpatient-visit codes 99202–99205 and 99212–99215 and aligned the format with other E/M codes.
  • A definition to determine the “substantive portion” of a split or shared E/M visit in which a physician and a nonphysician health professional work together to furnish work related to the visit.
  • Instructions for reporting hospital inpatient or observation services and admission and discharge services for the use of codes 99234–99236 when the patient stay crosses over two calendar dates.

Changes to the code set are considered through an open process managed by the AMA CPT Editorial Panel, an independent body convened by the AMA to ensure CPT content reflects the coding and data-driven demands of a modern health care system including digital health and augmented intelligence (AI), often called artificial intelligence.

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To promote an orderly annual transition to a newly modified CPT code set, the AMA releases each new edition four months ahead of the Jan. 1 operational date and develops an additional resource, CPT Changes 2024: An Insider’s Viewthat explores all the novel changes.

Get guidance on the updates for the CPT 2024 code set at the CPT & RBRVS 2024 Annual Symposium, being held online Nov. 15–17. Register now.

Also, a special section for CPT education has been created for the AMA Ed Hub™, an online learning platform containing continuing medical education, including a learning module series covering an overview of CPT coding basics and other topics. The CPT Network is also available for authoritative CPT coding guidance.

Coding books and products are available from the AMA Storefront on Amazon, including the CPT 2024 Professional Edition codebook.

CPT data products, including the CPT 2024 Standard Data File, are available via the AMA Intelligent Platform. The data file contains an entire package of six descriptor types for the 2024 code set and a complete set of appendices.