We’ve all been there – medical professionals have spent countless hours on the crucial training and education of caregivers to ensure carryover from therapy into the real world. Patients work hard in therapy to achieve their goals! So, it is no wonder that therapists want to make sure that the caregivers will help maintain the success and safety of their patients or loved ones. This skilled aspect of therapy was previously absorbed within non-billable portions of the workday.
There is good news! As of January 1, 2024, therapists will have access to new CPT codes that signify a pivotal shift in acknowledging therapists’ valuable efforts outside direct patient care, as well as the vital role caregivers play in a patient’s rehabilitation journey.
These CPT codes: 97550, 97551, and 97552, recognize and compensate facilities for therapists’ skilled time training caregivers.
The new codes focus on face-to-face caregiver training without the patient present, in relation to strategies and techniques aimed at improving a patient’s functional performance in their home or community environment. For speech therapy, training of communication techniques, diet consistency recommendations, safe swallow strategies, problem-solving, etc.
The 97550 code pertains to the initial 30-minute period of caregiver training, the 97551 code accounts for each additional 15 minutes, and the 97552 code introduces the concept of group caregiver training, enabling therapists to conduct sessions involving multiple caregivers simultaneously. This not only streamlines the training process but also enhances accessibility for families and support networks involved in a patient’s care.
It is essential to note that these codes are applicable when caregiver training aligns with an “established, individualized, and patient-centered plan of care”. According to the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) these codes “do not encompass brief discussions or education immediately following a patient session”, as these elements are already integrated “into the payment for direct evaluation or treatment time with the patient “(Please see the link below).
As we head into the 2024, these new CPT codes mark a significant stride toward a more comprehensive and transparent billing system, ultimately enhancing the quality of care provided by therapists while optimizing their billable work hours and acknowledging the invaluable contribution of caregivers in a patient’s recovery.
About the Author: Jaime Faitlowicz, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT, is a Regional Manager in New York City with Language Fundamentals. Jaime is a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech & Hearing Sciences. She also earned a Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology from Florida Atlantic University.