So here is the change....Medicare is not accepting any more consult coded visits. All visits must be coded as a 'new patient visit'. Here is what this means to Medicare.....Medicare can get the same work out of the doctors but pay them less. As medical professionals, the majority of doctors will practice as trained, doing whatever necessitates the appropriate care required for their patients i.e. communicating to the referring physicians. The continued administrative costs associated with corresponding with each other and time required to process a consulting physicians notes will not change, in fact they continue to increase.
Here is what it means to you the patient....there will be doctors who forego communicating with the referring doctor because they are not getting paid for it. Already there are patients and families who are frustrated when they don't get answers. Think about the ramifications when confusion is built into the process because one doctor doesn't know what the other is doing (this already happens sometimes right?) With the elimination of the consult structure, which had been built into the Medicare reimbursement schedule, the incentive for some doctors to communicate with each other will be eliminated. Many of the costs associated with communication between doctors will continue to exist and actually increase. The fact they aren't being compensated for those costs will be enough to propagate practicing medicine in a shoddy way - reduced communication between referring physicians. Bottom line: the quality of healthcare we receive will continue to be eroded, little by little, and most people won't be able to connect the dots. (Where have I heard that before?) But because you are reading this blog, you will! :) Doesn't that make you feel better??