Like them, I'd like to see payment reform. But, I want reform that preserves the autonomy of the therapist-patient collaboration rather than depends on centralized oversight of physical therapists by government regulators.
I'm afraid the Severity-Intensity Model may just increase the ability of regulators to audit physical therapists.
Physical therapists are set-up to fail, in every setting, by a documentation framework that was never intended to capture the patient experience of chronically disabled adults.
The Physical Therapy Business Alliance keyed-in on a central flaw in Severity-Intensity in its post at EIM on June 13th, 2012:
"However, the APS in its current form disproportionately emphasizes administrative and regulatory requirements (ie, documentation, compliance, etc.) at the expense of the most critical elements of the clinical encounter, which is incentivizing quality clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction."We're not alone - this telling indicator of professional consensus is the OVERWHELMINGLY NEGATIVE comments posted at the PTinMotion web site in response to an article on the Severity-Intensity model.
Severity-Intensity Would Increase "Fraudbusting", not fraud
This chart is derived from the Development Draft for APTA Members: An Alternative Payment System for Physical Therapy Services - APTA members have until Friday, June 22nd to comment.
Go to this link and add your two cents.
|Recommended Times for Severity-Intensity Patient Visits|
|Patient Severity at the time of the Visit|
|Intensity of Therapist Decision Making||Limited||Moderate||Significant|
|Limited||30 minutes||30 minutes||30 minutes|
|Moderate||31 - 45 minutes||31 - 45 minutes||31 - 45 minutes|
|Significant||45 minutes||45 minutes||45 minutes|
The yellow cells are 1-on-1 codes that require individualized interaction between the qualified healthcare professional and the patient.
We all think OUR patients are more difficult to treat than our fellow therapists' patients - this is true in medicine too and is known as Response Bias (seeing what you expect to find). Therefore, using Severity-Intensity we would expect to see a "southeast shift" in coding based on this chart - every patient belongs in the yellow highlighted cells.
"Code inflation" would occur, based on coding and reimbusement seminars promoted by "Medicare Experts" - here's an example I received yesterday in my e-mail:
"Treatment consists of manual therapy, 97140, to reduce swelling and scar formation followed by passive, active assistive ROM exercise to improve ROM at the knee; 97110, quad sets, SAQ, and SLR to promote the efficiency of the quad contraction and promote quad control at the knee joint, 97112; and finally, I want to put it all together by working on sit to stand transfers emphasizing knee flexion in sitting and equal weight distribution in sit to stand and stand to sit, 97530."Really?
Is this what we want Doctors of Physical Therapy spending their time on in the 21st century? Writing this blah-blah-blah?
I think your time, and mine, is more valuable than that.
And, technology is increasingly bringing us better documentation alternatives.
Severity-Intensity just adds a layer of complexity on top of the flawed documentation framework that wastes so much time and physical therapist productivity.
The Severity-Intensity Model needs to be accepted by the American Medical Association Relative Value Update Committee (AMA RUC) which may then recommend Severity-Intensity to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to be used within its Current Procedure Terminology (CPT) Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) IN PLACE OF the CPT 92505-97799 codes (also a few G-codes and a few others, possibly).
What Do We Use Instead of Severity-Intensity?
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has proposed to the Congress a primary care-based Medical Home Model which pays primary care physicians three ways:
- Fee for Service for each individual procedure
- a care management fee that compensates for expertise and time such as management and care coordination that are not direct patient encounters
- Pay for performance based on hitting benchmarked process and outcome measures