Get Ready for 2021 Coding Changes

MDEdge GI Hep News: Prepare for major changes to E/M coding starting in 2021

New Evaluation and Management (E/M) codes are coming in 2021 –this could simplify documentation.

Here’s an excerpt:

1.Elimination of history and physical as elements for code selection

2. Choice of using medical decision making (MDM) or total time as the basis of E/M level documentation

  • MDM. While there will still be three MDM subcomponents (number/complexity of problems, data, and risk), extensive edits were made to the ways in which these elements are defined and tallied.
  • Time. The definition of time is now minimum time, not typical time or “face-to-face” time. Minimum time represents total physician/qualified health care professional time on the date of service

3. Modification of the criteria for MDM:

  • Terms. Removed ambiguous terms (e.g., “mild”) and defined previously ambiguous concepts (e.g., “acute or chronic illness with systemic symptoms”).
  • Definitions. Defined important terms, such as “independent historian.”
  • Data elements. Re-defined the data elements to move away from simply adding up tasks to focusing on how those tasks affect the management of the patient (e.g., independent interpretation of a test performed by another provider and/or discussion of test interpretation with another physician).

4. Modifier/add-on code): GPC1X can be reported with all levels of E/M office/outpatient codes in which care of a patient’s single, serious, or complex chronic condition is the focus. CMS plans to reimburse GPC1X at 0.33 RVUs (about $12).


“Contact your Electronic Health Records (EHR) vendor to confirm the system your practice uses will be ready to implement the new E/M coding and guidelines changes on Jan. 1, 2021.”

My take: The intent of these changes is logical.  The goal of coding is to align the reimbursement with the degree of effort and not simply allow pre-formatted templates justify upcoding.  They could lead to simplification of documentation and allow more documentation time for medical decision-making part of the visit.

Related blog posts:

AMA Table 2 for E/M codes 212-215, 202-205






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