Clinical Practice Committee
Stephen P. Hoffmann, MD
Stephen P. Hoffmann, MD, chairs the Clinical Practice Committee, which monitors payment, billing, and regulatory matters that affect the clinical practice of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine in the United States. Dr. Hoffman talks about what he and his fellow members are doing to advance the Society’s mission of improving the quality of life of patients with lung diseases, critical illnesses, and sleep disorders.
Q. What’s the charge of your committee?
A. We address the needs of the practicing community from a business management perspective, and we advise the ATS on issues related to billing, coding, and practice management that will affect their day-to-day, year-to-year lives.
We represent the ATS on the American Medical Association (AMA) Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) editorial panel and the AMA/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC). The editorial panel writes, edits, and maintains all of the CPT codes. The RUC is the main AMA organization that advises CMS on valuation on those codes. I’m the ATS representative to the CPT editorial panel, and Alan Plummer, MD, is the representative to RUC.
We have a lot to do with the actual practice of medicine and how it affects the individual practitioner.
Q. Would you say your committee’s focus has changed in the last several years?
A. I joined in 2002, and I’ve chaired for the past four years. The focus has been the same over time: distributing information and education. But our methods have evolved. Several years ago we created the Coding & Billing Quarterly. We put a lot of effort into that little newsletter to get information out about what practitioners need to be aware of in the future. We’ve been more aggressive at trying to implement symposiums and post-graduate courses at the International Conference, but we haven’t always been successful. Our submission this year was not accepted.
Q. What would you count as your major accomplishments to date?
A. We’ve written a number of codes that have helped our patients and our practitioners. We’ve worked hard on getting codes for pulmonary rehabilitation, helping with the reevaluation of sleep medicine codes, and helped rewrite and negotiate changes in the PFT codes. The CBQ has been well received. But it’s the list of codes that have helped out our patients and practitioners that is our biggest success, and it’s an ongoing process.
Q. How is the perspective you bring to the table unique?
A. The ATS is made up of a lot of academic research people. The people in our committee are interested in the actual business practice of medicine and dealing with bureaucracy. We’ve developed expertise in dealing with bureaucracy and responding to those concerns and requests from our membership, patient organizations, and government.
Q. Is the make-up of your committee representative of the Society’s membership at large or does it represent a subset of ATS members?
A. Our committee does not represent the members at large. ATS has a large international membership, and what we do has no effect on them per se. The Society also has a large number of PhDs, basic scientists, and nonclinicians—our committee doesn’t really affect them except as patients. We represent the practicing physician. That’s a significant chunk of the ATS membership—it’s not all of it, obviously. If you look at our committee, we’re all practicing doctors, and some are in academia. Our jobs at these institutions are largely administrative or clinical.
Q. Do you see many opportunities for collaboration with other ATS committees?
A. Clearly Clinicians Advisory and Quality Improvement committees, but there are opportunities to collaborate with any group that’s talking about billing and coding.
Meet the members of the Clinical Practice Committee
Stephen P. Hoffmann, MD (chair)
Kathrin Nicolacakis, MD (vice chair)
Gary Ewart (staff)
Dean E. Schraufnagel, MD (ex-officio)
Jarrod T. Bruce, MD
Melissa Bruce Rhodes, MD
Brett J. Gerstenhaber, MD
Richard A. Helmers, MD
Kevin L. Kovitz, MD
Monica Kraft, MD
Burton L. Lesnick, MD
Scott Manaker, MD, PhD
Michael P. Nelson, BS
Steve G. Peters, MD
Alan L. Plummer, MD
H. Thomas Robertson, MD