March 13, 2020
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health Practice Management
The American Medical Association (AMA) today announced that the CPT Editorial Panel approved a new addition to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) code set that will help streamline data-driven resource and allocation planning in the battle against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the United States.
“In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CPT Editorial Panel has expedited approval of a unique CPT code to report laboratory testing services that diagnose the presence of the novel coronavirus,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D.. “The new CPT code assigned to the test for the novel coronavirus provides analytical advantages for tracking, allocating and optimizing resources as testing ramps up in the United States.”
For quick reference, the new Category I CPT code and long descriptor are:
87635: Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]), amplified probe technique
The code is effective immediately for use as the industry standard for reporting of tests for the novel coronavirus across the nation’s health care system. In addition to the long descriptor, CPT code 87635 has short and medium descriptors that can be accessed on the AMA website.
The CPT Editorial Panel, the independent body convened by the AMA with sole authority to manage revisions to the CPT code set, expedited the code development process for the novel coronavirus test. Development, review and approval of the new CPT code involved broad input from practicing physicians, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other experts.
The California Medical Association (CMA) has set up a COVID-19 resource page, where you will find links to the latest news, research and developments on the COVID-19 outbreak for physicians and other health care providers.