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AMA, McKesson partner on molecular pathology coding project

Beginning in 2014, McKesson’s test identifiers will be integrated with the AMA’s CPT coding system, according to the two organizations.

By Bob Cook — Posted March 11, 2013

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The American Medical Association and McKesson Health Solutions are teaming up on a licensing partnership to create a registry of molecular diagnostic tests. The registry will enable physicians, patients and health insurers to keep better track of the growing number of tests available and the Current Procedural Terminology codes that can be used to bill for them.

The partnership, announced Feb. 26, will group McKesson’s Z-code Identifiers for genomic, metabolomic, proteomic and other molecular tests with corresponding molecular pathology codes in the AMA’s CPT set beginning in early 2014.

The two organizations said that with the number of molecular tests at roughly 3,000 and growing, and greater interest in using genomic testing for more personalized care, there was a need to develop a system to help unlock the tests’ potential. The partnership links separate efforts by McKesson to catalog tests by laboratories and diagnostics manufacturers, and by the AMA to assign CPT codes to them.

“We had two systems out there doing different things, occupying different niches. That by itself was causing confusion,” said Robert Musacchio, PhD, senior vice president of publishing and business services for the AMA, which has been involved with coding solutions for molecular pathology services since 1998. “Basically, what we tried to do was eliminate some of the confusion out of the market.”

More test precision

The AMA and McKesson said that by joining forces, laboratories will be able to have their tests mapped to CPT codes, which can help in more precisely identifying what test was performed and improve efficiencies in paying for it. The organizations also said physicians and other clinicians would be able to use the partnership to help accurately identify and select tests.

Once the partnership is under way, the AMA and McKesson said, payers will get additional, detailed information to identify what molecular pathology tests were performed and their outcomes, allowing them to analyze the value of these tests. The organizations are sharing their terminology with the National Institutes of Health’s Genetic Testing Registry.

“The collaboration will assist the health care system as a whole,” said Rich Young, assistant vice president for lab products and services for McKesson Health Solutions.

The codes that are developed through the partnership will be available as part of the AMA’s overall CPT products offering.

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