Are Your Billing and CPT Codes Up to Date?

The AMA released a list of CPT code updates and changes, notably for patient encounters, ordering tests, and discussions, among others. They reported 329 code changes in the most current CPT code edition, some of which impact dermatologists, pathologists, and dermatopathologists.

Although few dermatologists would take pride in their CPT coding skills, being proficient in billing practices can ensure the business side of your practice runs smoothly and gets reimbursed quickly. But as AMA announces major updates to their CPT coding sets, now is the time to check your CPT codes for accuracy and compliance.

There are a few factors that have impacted the need for changes: First, the shift toward value-based care; second, the Patients over Paperwork initiative launched by the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2017; and third, the onset of COVID-19, which required additional codes.

As healthcare systems transition to a VBC model, here’s why it’s important for your CPT codes to be current.  

Why Update CPT Codes?

In response to the growing concern among healthcare providers that the documentation requirements for billing weren’t benefiting patient care, the AMA set out to streamline the CPT coding process. 

According to the AMA, “The CPT code set continues to be modified to respond to the fast pace innovation among digital medicine services that can improve access to health care and improved health outcomes for patients across the country.”

By streamlining the standard for communicating healthcare procedures and services across healthcare teams and health systems, better CPT coding and billing procedures will reduce the cost of care while increasing the quality of care and expand access to it. In addition to preventing fraudulent claims and reducing the risk of monetary or legal penalties, other results may include more accurate billing and a reduction in claim denials, which can frustrate patients and impact a provider’s reputation.

“The AMA is attacking dysfunction in health care by removing obstacles and burdens that interfere with patient care,” the AMA says. “Our focus is on making technology an asset in the delivery of health care, not a burden.”

What CPT Code Changes Can We Expect for Pathology and Dermatopathology?

To focus on codes that impact the pathology, dermatology, and dermatopathology fields, APS Medical Billing released a CPT code change summary highlighting the most common CPT codes. You can access it here

For instance, although coding for inpatient encounters and consultations are not affected by these changes, doctors should note changes in codes 99201 through 99215 that pertain to outpatient office visits. “With these landmark changes, as approved by the CPT Editorial Panel, documentation for E/M office visits will now be centered around how physician think and take care of patients and not on mandatory standards that encouraged copy/paste and checking boxes,” says the AMA, adding that the goal of these coding changes is to decrease the overload of documentation and coding, cut down on unnecessary documentation, reduce audits, and make sure reimbursement for E/M is resource-based.

How Does EMR Technology Make It Easy to Update CPT Codes?

Fortunately, using EMR for your patients’ information makes it easy to update CPT code changes. EMR technology houses patient data in a secure location that is easy to organize and share with other healthcare providers, insurance companies, pharmacies, labs, other clinics, billing services, and more. Compared to traditional handwriting, an EMR facilitates the code assignment for billing, increases legibility to reduce errors, curtails paperwork, and eliminates duplicate tests.  

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Documenting a patient’s record with all relevant and important facts, and having that information readily available, allows providers to furnish correct and appropriate services that can improve quality, safety, and efficiency.” 

If your clinic is considering updating to digital patient records, we’ve weighed some pros and cons of using an EMR system. Check it out! 

Dan Lambert Explains Business Interdependence in His Latest Forbes Article

How does one company become an influential fixture in a global culture? For Dan Lambert, CEO of PathologyWatch and member of the Forbes Young Entrepreneur Council, it requires interdependence.

Inspired by Apple’s focus on integration to lay the groundwork for a customer experience-centered digital transformation, Dan and the PathologyWatch team have worked to create their own “Apple moment” of interdependence.  “This is how we can reduce the cost of healthcare in the US without sacrificing quality,” says Dan.

In his latest Forbes article, Dan explains the competitive advantage of interdependence and how interdependence benefits healthcare. Here are some highlights from the article.

The Competitive Advantage of Interdependence

A product is interdependent when one part is made and delivered depending on the way another product is made and delivered. Apple perfected this process, and Salesforce uses this model as well. “Once an interdependent product delivers reliably for customers, its components and processes begin to become standardized,” says Dan. “At this point, suppliers can compete to deliver what have now become modules more cheaply and quickly.” 

Benefits of Interdependence in Healthcare

Part of what inspired the formation of PathologyWatch was dermatologists’ need for a complete pathology system. “They wanted digital pathology, EMR integrations, the ability to show the case to the patient and an expert opinion (or sometimes multiple expert opinions),” explains Dan. He adds, “PathologyWatch was created as a center of excellence for dermatopathology, where we aim to provide an optimized end-user experience for our dermatologists and integrated care for patients.”

The healthcare industry is rapidly adopting a model of interdependence to fuel patient-centric digital transformation as a strategy to reduce the cost of healthcare in the US without sacrificing quality. “I am cautiously optimistic that this new commitment to interdependence will yield better outcomes, lower costs and overall greater value in healthcare,” he says.

To read the full Forbes article, click here

PathologyWatch Boasts Key Addition to Its Roster of Dermatopathologists with Allison Readinger, MD

A leader in dermatology and dermatopathology, Allison Readinger, MD, joins PathologyWatch’s clinical team to assist in the growing landscape of digital healthcare.

Salt Lake City—March 7, 2021—PathologyWatch, a full-service digital pathology service, is pleased to welcome Allison Readinger, MD, to its clinical team. A highly qualified and respected dermatologist and dermatopathologist, Readinger brings a wealth of industry knowledge and innovation, coinciding with PathologyWatch’s mission to preserve and extend life for patients while reducing healthcare costs.

“We are pleased to have Dr. Readinger join us as a member of our clinical team. Her industry expertise and seasoned leadership skills make her a genuine asset,” said Dan Lambert, cofounder and chief executive officer of PathologyWatch. “Together, we are eager to expand our reach across the Texas market, positively impacting the lives of our healthcare providers and their patients.”

An alumnus of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Readinger is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist with over 15 years of experience. In October 2010, she opened Trinity Vista Dermatology to offer more dermatology services to the rapidly growing population of Fort Worth, Texas.

Readinger recently served as President of the Texas Dermatological Society and continues to advocate for patients, for physician and resident education, and for her specialty.

At her core, Readinger enjoys bonding with her patients, providing excellent care, and being at the forefront of advances in medical technology. With an understanding of the importance of attention to detail and personalized care in modern medicine, she makes an excellent addition to the PathologyWatch family.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the continued growth of digital dermatopathology,” said Readinger. “The landscape of digital dermatopathology is growing at a rapid pace, and I am eager to assist in the continued growth and progress of our field.”  She adds, “I hope to utilize digital dermatopathology to expand further my ability to offer great clinicopathologic correlation to my clients.”

For more information, please email [email protected] or visit us at

About PathologyWatch
PathologyWatch is the groundbreaking leader of digital dermatopathology services. Through these services, dermatology clinics, hospitals and laboratories can improve operational efficiency by speeding up workflow and enhancing patient outcomes by utilizing the PathologyWatch expert professional team and partner laboratory services. This can facilitate best-in-class reads and, in some cases, enable additional revenue to the practice by in-housing pathology. With an intuitive and easy-to-implement digital pathology solution that includes access to top-tier dermatopathologists and a streamlined clinical workflow that interfaces directly into the EMR, PathologyWatch brilliantly combines state-of-the-art technology and clinical decision-making to deliver unprecedented patient care.

3 Ways Locum Tenens Can Help Expand Your Pathology Lab

If you are exploring new ways to expand your pathology lab with additional services or you see a need to bolster your team to keep up with growing demands, hiring full-time pathologists may feel a little too risky. Rather than putting off your plans, have you considered locum tenens with on-demand dermatopathologists? 

A recent survey found that 69 percent of healthcare facility managers said they use at least one locum tenens provider in a typical month, while 19 percent said they use seven or more. They recognize the benefits that locum tenens provides, including consistent revenue, flexibility in patient care, and expanding access to patient care. Let’s discuss how each point may benefit you.

1. Protects Revenue Flow

How can you keep your lab running when your primary revenue generators need time off? Schedule a locum tenens dermatopathologist to cover for them. That means you can bill for services even when your primary providers are not available.  If we don’t have a physician working, that means we don’t have a nurse working, and it goes all the way down through the organization. So the locum physicians are an integral part of how we provide care,” says Kelly Cameron, a director of provider recruitment and retention.

Similarly, if a lab is short-handed on dermatopathologists, profits may be lost as clinics will be forced to send their work elsewhere to ensure appropriate turnaround times.  At PathologyWatch, our locum tenens dermatopathologists work remotely to easily transition between labs by using digital pathology tools that streamline tasks and create a more efficient and cost-saving process for you. That means you save on expenses for travel, housing, and per diems. Plus, our EMR interface provides quick access to results, patient information, health services partners, etc. Should you opt for virtual locum services, we offer secure, 24/7 access to your pathology slides.

2. Provides Flexibility in Patient Care 

An important step in patient care innovation is to provide specialized services your patients want and need. But it can be risky to explore new care models by hiring permanent staff. Our staff of board-certified, academic-level dermatopathologists provide expertise in the areas you may be considering in your clinic.  Do you want to specialize in rare skin diseases that are prevalent in your area? Test that service with a locum tenens dermatopathologist. If it’s successful, a locum tenens doctor can remain in place until a permanent position is filled. 

3. Expands Access to Patient Care

We’ve encountered at least two ways that locum tenens dermatopathologists can help your practice reach more patients. These include treating patients in rural or seasonally-impacted areas and using teledermatology for those who have difficulty visiting a doctor in person.  Many healthcare networks have opened up clinics in rural areas where fluctuations in seasonal work or outdoor recreation impact the volume and type of care patients need most.

For instance, a clinic located by heavy agricultural operations or popular recreation areas where people spend more time outdoors during the busy warmer months of the year will experience an influx of patients but may not need a full staff all year long. Locum tenens doctors are prepared to go where patient care is needed most. And when the busy season ends, it’s easy to reduce the staff size. 

As one of the most rapidly expanding branches of telemedicine, teledermatology is another way to utilize dermatopathology expertise and provide care for patients in remote locations. “Dermatology is particularly suitable for telemedical diagnosis and consultation due to its image‐based orientation in diagnostics,” says Peter Elsner. Since the COVID-19 onset, experts estimate at least half of all dermatologists practicing in the US use telehealth technology. 

If you are one of the 85 percent of healthcare facility managers who used locum tenens services within the past 12 months, you’ve likely benefited from the forward-thinking strategies many locum tenens used to bolster your practice. With PathologyWatch locum tenens dermatopathologists, your lab can maintain revenue while balancing the needs of your valued staff, use expertise to explore new care models, and utilize innovative digital technologies to create more efficient patient care processes. Although locum tenens services may be temporary, the proven solutions, expertise, and technology will remain.

For more information about our locum tenens services, email us at i[email protected].

3 Myths about EMR Systems Your Clinic Should Know in 2021

Studies show that almost half of all healthcare clinics currently use electronic health records. Most users agree that digital technology successfully streamlines work processes, increases productivity, and improves customer service while expanding a clinic’s reach to other practices. 

But measurable EMR success begins with a better understanding of what EMR systems can (or cannot) do for your medical practice. Let’s discuss three of the most common misconceptions about implementing EMR software as part of your medical practice. 

Myth #1 – EMR Implementation Is Expensive

Much like purchasing medical equipment, there is a cost associated with converting to EMR, but let’s consider where some of your money is going right now:

  • Did you know that it costs around $25,000 to fill a four-drawer filing cabinet and over $2,000 every year to maintain those files?
  • Did you know the typical office spends around $20 in labor to file each document and $120 in labor searching for lost documents?
  • Did you know that, on average, employees spend around 25 to 35 percent of their time looking for information essential to doing their jobs?

When you add it all up, implementing an EMR can actually save on costs, as it can help simplify office processes that position your practice to maximize revenue by tracking revenue management cycles, reducing data input errors, supporting automated tasks, and collecting data for reporting. 

A long-term investment in EMR can create more manageable and scalable practices.

Myth #2 – All EMR Systems Are the Same

EMR systems are not all the same. There are 16 distinct electronic health record platforms currently in use in healthcare systems. In addition, “most hospitals have at least 10 EHRs in place and only two percent are down to just a pair of platforms,” says Tom Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Healthcare IT News

Since interoperability is essential for patient care, PathologyWatch offers an HL7 interface for our partners to use.* We provide training for our labs and cover costs to ensure patient information is shared on a dependable and efficient EMR system.

“One challenge with information sharing in healthcare is that there are many universally accepted electronic medical record systems,” says April Larson, a practicing dermatologist and director of clinical implementation at PathologyWatch. “Therefore, while healthcare is becoming increasingly digital, many of us are still disconnected and cannot share medical information—such as clinic notes, lab results, and pathology reports—as seamlessly as we would like.”

When shopping for EMR software, be sure to select an interface that allows your clinic to transfer patient data safely among your health services networks. 

Myth #3 – EMRs Interfere with Patient Engagement

Do EMR systems interfere with positive patient experiences? The answer is “possibly.” Patient engagement can be affected by caregivers’ reliance on technology and data at the exclusion of personal connectivity. The keyword here is “reliance.” 

As a recent National Institutes of Health study states, 

For example, nurses and other health care providers can be so focused on data from monitors that they fail to detect potentially important subtle changes in clinical status. Problems may emerge based on the sheer volume of new devices, the complexity of the devices, the poor interface between multiple technologies at the bedside, and the haphazard introduction of new devices at the bedside. 

With EMR technology, it’s true that too much of a good thing can be hard to manage. For example, it may be difficult to find specific information without sorting through the entire patient file. And that could take time away from interacting with the patient during their appointment. 

However, improvements are underway as EMR software designers work with medical professionals to enhance the patient/physician experience by making EMR tech more user-friendly. And that means new updates that filter patient files so doctors can access specific information rather than scrolling through every page. Considering 42 percent of dermatologists spend an average of nine to 12 minutes with each patient, quick access to information can make better use of limited time. 

Other projected innovations in EMR will connect dermatologists with patients via text messaging and offer online appointment scheduling, automated medication reminders, online appointment request portals, etc. The possibilities are directly geared toward improving the patient experience and supporting your growing dermatology practice. 

Electronic medical records are a fundamental part of future medical office processes. By understanding the long-term benefits of an EMR investment, selecting the EMR system that’s right for your clinic, and developing a balance between technology and positive patient engagement, the success of your dermatology practice won’t be a myth: It will be a legend.


*Over 90 percent of healthcare system vendors use a Health Level Seven (HL7) Interface, which refers to set standards for transferring data between healthcare providers.

Teledermatology in the COVID Era

Despite the benefits touted by telemedicine enthusiasts, widespread adoption of this technology has lagged in the healthcare industry. However, with the onset of COVID-19, a new era of telemedicine has begun. Almost overnight, telemedicine became more accepted by regulators, providers, insurance companies, and patients. The combination of improved video technology, patient demand, and provider acceptance has eased restrictions and pushed telemedicine to the forefront in the medical industry. 

In addition, dermatopathology is following this trend. Regulations for the remote use of pathology have changed in light of COVID-19, making it possible for pathologists to work remotely and support the use of digital pathology technology for the duration of the pandemic.

With the universal adoption of video conferencing, 20 percent of all medical visits are happening via telemedicine. Here are a few reasons to consider teledermatology:


Recent surveys show that a common reason over one-third of patients may prefer telemedicine visits is saving time by avoiding the commute to a provider’s office. For instance, telemedicine can reduce the amount of time away from work or the cost and headaches of arranging childcare. Patients can be productive while waiting for the video conference instead of spending time in the waiting room. Even older patients who might have struggled with technology adoption in the past are more likely to embrace telemedicine options to avoid the increased COVID complications and mortality associated with this at-risk population.


Dermatologists can now use traditional billing codes for teledermatology visits. Teledermatology is accessible even when providers or patients may be out sick but are not debilitated. Many people who test positive for COVID are asymptomatic and would still like to keep their appointments if possible. This helps control the inevitable cancellations required for patients with cold symptoms and need to rule out COVID or flu infection before presenting in your office.

Because of increased access provided by digital dermatopathology, companies like PathologyWatch can employ a national network of dermatopathology experts. Many areas do not have access to dermatopathologists and often rely on expensive locum tenens to provide specialty or overflow care. Also, it can take several weeks to get a second opinion on a case. With a digital workflow, digital slides can be more quickly accessed for consensus diagnosis or consultation.

Teledermatology also provides people living in rural areas or mobility challenges with easy access to medical care using synchronous live video-conferencing. The CDC indicates that telemedicine “can help reduce barriers to care for people who live far away from specialists or who have transportation or mobility issues.” As one dermatologist described, “Our specialty is a visual field, and there are many skin conditions which are diagnosable from looks alone.” Dermatology lends itself well to photographic consultations by primary care providers to dermatologists. 


During the COVID pandemic, the CDC established guidelines to keep healthcare workers and vulnerable patients safe during face-to-face visits. Despite these precautions, healthcare workers are still seven times more likely to develop severe COVID-19 infection than individuals performing nonessential jobs.

Teledermatology encourages a workflow that keeps providers and their staff safe from contracting diseases from patients or other staff members. Also, video conferencing can allow for the outsourcing of specific tasks, such as a scribe. This can help dermatology clinics by having a safe pool of healthcare workers that don’t have a higher risk of developing COVID-19. 

Patient Satisfaction

Up to 48 percent of people prefer providers who offer telemedicine visits. A consumer survey revealed that 75 percent of patients who participated in virtual care were very or completely satisfied with the experience. 

Meanwhile, telemedicine can level the socioeconomic playing field. Access Derm is an AAD-supported teledermatology program where volunteer dermatologists can help underserved populations who don’t have access to a dermatologist. It helps provide critical preventive care and second opinions, improving the quality of life and reducing the expense of future treatments by diagnosing skin cancer at earlier stages, for example. 

When to Consider Teledermatology

Consider teledermatology options for follow-up visits that focus primarily on counseling rather than diagnosis. With these types of patients, rapport has already been established through in-person visits, and with straightforward diagnoses—like acne, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis—much of the return visit focuses on review of lab work, medication counseling, and treatment changes if patients are not responding to first-line therapies. In particular, iPLEDGE patients or their caregivers, who are required to have monthly visits for the duration of therapy, may save significant time through a teledermatology visit. 

While not all visits are possible through video conferencing, making healthcare convenient can encourage more people to seek regular consultations and take better care of themselves.