By Najeeb Mohideen, MD, FASTRO
ASTRO hosted its first two-day Coding and Coverage Seminar at ASTRO headquarters in December 2017
to a sold-out crowd. Attendees of the Coding and Coverage seminar included professional coders and billers, practice administrators, radiation oncologists and representatives from private payers. The intimate setting—registration was capped at 50—allowed for a Socratic, interactive event. Attendees had direct access to ASTRO faculty and staff, and feedback from attendees largely emphasized how impressed they were with the ease with which they could have their questions answered.
Being a conference moderator at the December seminar was quite an exhilarating experience. Reviewing the scores of questions that were being sent in real-time gave me a unique insight into the major coding and reimbursement issues that our clinicians face every working day. The ASTRO faculty involved in the seminar included subject-matter experts who are also adept at health policy, so many of the attendees—especially the radiation oncology clinical staff—enjoyed being able to engage in conversations and interact with staff on coding issues, with a heavy emphasis on the clinical process of care.
Going by the feedback, participants found the seminar highly worthwhile. A typical comment was: “We found several opportunities for improvement and correcting our current process.” Another said: “It was great discussing coding with the folks who actually developed these codes.”
Attendee survey results reflect these comments. Seventy-six percent of attendees reported that they would be making changes in their current practice based on information they learned at the seminar, and 93 percent of attendees reported feeling prepared for coding and coverage issues that will arise in their practice as a result of attending the meeting.
Faculty at the December Coding and Coverage Seminar included those who write the annual ASTRO Coding Resource
, and those who are directly involved in health policy and ASTRO’s advocacy efforts. The seminar is a wonderful way to not only understand how to correctly use the CPT codes for radiation oncology, but also to understand some background information on the process of code development. Changes specific to the 2018 CPT code set were also discussed, and attendees were able to ask questions and gain clarity on this complex subject. Faculty of the Coding and Coverage Seminar were thrilled to be able to provide coding and coverage information pertaining specifically to radiation oncology to the attendees.
Coverage issues within radiation oncology were discussed during the two-day event, as well, and attendees gained insight into coverage topics and trends that have arisen over the past year. ASTRO staff provided updates on ASTRO’s efforts to address coverage issues experienced by members, and were available to talk to attendees about individual issues they had seen at their practices.
Additional topics covered at the seminar included sessions on the Quality Payment Program and specific modalities, such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), brachytherapy, proton beam therapy (PBT) and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)/stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). Case studies were also presented to help attendees learn how to apply their newfound coding knowledge.
The response to the first Coding and Coverage Seminar was overwhelmingly positive. “Many staff get early training and limited resources” for coding education, according to one attendee. “Between cross coverage of billing for different specialties and varied education about radiation oncology coding, this course would be a valuable tool to many staff to get it right and understand some of the background behind each code. I personally found it helpful to correctly guide billing for our expanded capabilities and services.”
Due to popular demand, another Coding and Coverage Seminar will be held at ASTRO headquarters on March 23-24 in Arlington, Virginia.
This will be the last Coding and Coverage Seminar addressing the coding and coverage changes of 2018. To maintain the small-group setting, registration is limited, and the event is expected to fill quickly. Registration for the March Coding and Coverage Seminar comes with both electronic and printed editions of the 2018 ASTRO Coding Resource
, and if you are interested in attending, it is recommended that you register now.
Do you have questions regarding to the 2018 CPT codes? Let us know in the comments and we can pass them along to ASTRO coding staff members.