It's likely that as a physician, you've run into a situation where a patient comes in for a routine annual preventative visit, then ends discussing a whole hosts of concerns ranging from pre-existing conditions to erratic behaviors. As a doctor, it can be difficult to translates these visits into proper medical coding and billing.

Making things clear
According to Physicians Practice, there are three ways to diffuse this situation so that both that patient and doctor get the most out of their visit together. Since detail-specific and preventative doctor's visits require a completely different set of medical billing solutions, you want to make sure that you are upfront and honest with your patient about what result you both wish to achieve.

From the beginning, it is important that you explain to your patient, or if you are visiting with a child the patient's parent, that a preventative visit entails standard services such as referrals for immunizations, risk factor reduction for diseases, routine exams, management of ongoing conditions and updates to a medical history in an age and gender appropriate fashion. A detail-specific visit will likely focus in on an acute or chronic problem and then end with a discussion about treatments for the condition.

Different methods for handling a tricky medical situation
There are several ways that doctors can handle these instances when they arise, according to Physicians Practice:

1. Going with a two-for-one deal: Some doctors will dismiss the instances when they address certain acute or chronic conditions during a preventative care visit. The source explains that medical practices will likely do this because most payers won't reimburse for a second service. This means that a lot of patients who originally come in expecting a free preventative visit will become irritated when they are presented with a copayment or are charged with a deductible. While it can be difficult to deal with insurance companies, Medicaid or Medicare on these matters, but it isn't good for your business to perform two services for the price of one.

2. Ask the patient to set up a separate appointment: If your patient comes into the office with a serious medical emergency or illness, then you can always set up a preventative appointment later on. It's also not a wise idea to address a long list of issues in one sitting, especially when it comes to your medical billing software. Ask your patient about their most pressing medical concern, consider treatments and then schedule another appointment if needed for other matters.

3. Bill the patient for both services: Perhaps the most straightforward and time-efficient approach to this predicament is to bill the patient for both the preventative and detail-oriented services. This means that the patient will likely be charged with a copay or a full fee following his or her appointment, which can become a source of complaint. In these cases, it's best to be upfront about the cost of these services before they are performed. Either way, be sure that you are implementing the proper documentation and understanding the full breadth of patient insurance verification for these two services. Otherwise, this will cause confusion for both you and the patient.

Addressing the needs of your patient is important, but it is also crucial that you fully understanding how to deal with coding for both preventative and detail-oriented services when these problems arise.