Evaluation and management (E/M) services, which include making diagnoses, counseling and educating, developing strategies of care, and following up on treatment, are common to all medical specialties. Surveys of a variety of specialists using the magnitude-estimation method show that physicians agree closely in rating the work of particular E/M services. Regardless of the type of E/M service, the site at which it is performed, or the specialty performing it, work per unit of time varies only slightly. Comparison of work and time for services to which experts assigned billing codes in our consultative process indicates, however, that there may be large differences in the way different specialties use these billing codes. In some instances, work entailed by some of the E/M billing codes within specialties also appears to vary substantially. If empirical studies of physicians' coding and billing practices support our findings, possible responses might include (1) developing specialty-specific resource-based relative values for E/M services and (2) redefining the Physicians' Current Procedural Terminology, edition 4, codes for these services in terms that include time specifications.
Peter Braun, William C. Hsiao, Edmund R. Becker, Margaret DeNicola. Evaluation and Management Services in the Resource-Based Relative Value Scale. JAMA. 1988;260(16):2409–2417. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410160085010