Free Consultations are not allowed
Does that surprise you? Free Consultations are not allowed because a consultation is a CPT-coded procedure. However, an office can offer a pre-acceptance interview with a patient at no charge. We'll tell you how.
As long as specific criteria are met, the pre-acceptance interview is okay. Here are the rules:
- this is a routine part of your initial visit procedure
- is not advertised in public, and
- no evaluation or treatment is given
Often, this is the best procedure for allowing a patient to come in and find out if they are even in the right place, or are a good candidate for care, while avoiding the claim of financial inducement.
This may look strikingly similar to a typical new patient encounter. Appropriate history is collected and the patient is placed in the consultation area. The doctor will most likely collect similar information as collected in a typical new patient encounter.This interview is an opportunity for the doctor to listen to information about the patient’s condition and for the patient to learn more about the doctor and chiropractic, if they haven't already. It appears as more of a “conversation” than a history-gathering encounter. Remember, gathering of patient history is a component of the evaluation and management code you will charge, and therefore, must be included in detail in that CPT-coded evaluation portion of the visit, not this pre-acceptance interview time. Simple rather than detailed notes can be compiled at this interview, and then recorded in greater detail when/if the patient continues on to the agreed upon CPT-coded section of the visit.
It’s vital that when a patient is in the pre-acceptance interview, before you move to CPT-coded, charged services, the patient has the opportunity to “opt in” and direct the doctor to move forward with these services.
What if the patient says no?
Don’t attach too much meaning to “No.” It is a responsible patient who takes into consideration their ability to pay and to follow through with care. Being gracious and understanding in this scenario may pay in spades later. They have now met the doctor and know more about their care. It’s unlikely they will go anyplace else when they decide to opt in to care. If they do, and it’s because the doctor down the street discounts illegally or doesn’t charge copayments, let it go . . . let them go. Hold your head high and know that you may have to get 10 “no’s” to get to a single “yes.”