You've heard physicians complain about the hours of unpaid time they and their clinical teams spend managing their Medicare patients' chronic conditions beyond the face-to-face office encounters: The late-night and weekend phone calls, all the extra work.
The key word here is unpaid.
There are questions from patients and caregivers about diagnoses and dosages. Questions from referral specialists and pharmacists. Reviews of lab and imaging tests. Assessments of patients' functional status. Appointment coordination. Development of care plans. Doctors provide all that for free because none of it is compensated under Medicare's current rules, which consider these services part of the patient's prior or upcoming face-to-face visit.
All of this will soon change, although few physicians realize it yet.
The new G-code
Enter "G-code" for Chronic Care Management Services. The G stands for Government, as in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which devised this code as a way to incentivize doctors to do a much better job coordinating their patients' care. In a news release, in fact, the agency called the G-code "a milestone."