Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Things are getting ugly between Sermo and the AMA

Wow, things are starting to get quite nasty here. The marriage has turned into an ugly divorce. When Sermo announced its partnership with the AMA, I was optimistic. However, they have had an ugly split recently and they're now at war.

I just got an e-mail from Sermo's founder Dr. Daniel Palestrant. The subject line reads: "From the Founder: CPT - Why physicians always get screwed, thanks AMA"

He highlights the results of a recent survey that included over 4,000 US physicians and it generated over 700 comments on Sermo. The results are quite striking:
  • 75% of physicians surveyed are not members of the AMA.
  • 89% of physicians claim, "The AMA does not speak for me."
  • 91% of physicians surveyed do not believe the AMA accurately reflects their opinion as physicians.
Now, the focus on Sermo is shifting towards Current Procedure Terminology (CPT) coding. Here's some background on CPT codes:
For most physicians, Current Procedure Terminology or CPT codes have become a defining aspect of how we must practice medicine. They have become the "currency" of healthcare, mandating all manner of payments to physicians from the most complex surgical procedures to routine office visits. In the process, the CPT coding system has turned into an incredibly complex system of codes, modifiers, and exceptions. Add to that the RVU formulas, and it is no wonder that most physicians are drowning in paperwork.
So, now it's time to consider some questions related to CPT codes:
  • Who publishes these CPT codes?
  • Is it right that the AMA makes more money from selling licensing for CPT codes than it does from membership dues?
  • Should our government continue to support the AMA’s monopoly on CPT codes?
  • Who should manage CPT codes?
If you're a U.S. physician, have you joined Sermo? Are you a member of the AMA?

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