Journal Article

The Complexity, Relative Value, and Financial Worth of Curbside Consultations in an Academic Infectious Diseases Unit

Christopher Grace, W. Kemper Alston, Mary Ramundo, Louis Polish, Beth Kirkpatrick and Christopher Huston

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 51, issue 6, pages 651-655
Published in print September 2010 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online September 2010 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1086/655829
The Complexity, Relative Value, and Financial Worth of Curbside Consultations in an Academic Infectious Diseases Unit

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Background. Curbside consultations are common in clinical practice. The complexity, relative value, and revenue loss associated with curbside consultations are not well defined.

Methods. Curbside consultations performed during a 1-year period were studied. Each curbside consultation was assigned a Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code on the basis of the inpatient versus outpatient status of the patient, initial versus subsequent care, and clinical complexity. On the basis of the CPT code, the physician work component of the relative value unit (wRVU) was assigned for each curbside consultation. The 2005 Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services conversion factor of $37.89 per wRVU was used for cost estimates. Comparisons were made with formal consultations performed during the same time period.

Results. A total of 1001 curbside consultations were fielded: 66% involved outpatients, and 97% were coded as initial consultations. A total of 78% of curbside consultations were considered complex in nature, being assigned a CPT code of level 4–5, including 84% of the inpatient and 75% of the outpatient curbside consultations. These curbside consultations would have generated 2480 wRVUs. During the same period, formal consultations generated 12,121 wRVUs. Thus, curbside consultations represented 17% (2480/14,601) of the clinical work value of the infectious diseases unit. If the infectious diseases unit had performed these curbside consultations as formal consultations, an additional $93,979 in revenue would have been generated.

Conclusions. Curbside consultations are common and complex. The curbside consultation should be incorporated into measures of infectious diseases providers' productivity and compensation.

Journal Article.  2758 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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