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International Pathology Day

Dr. Mark Synovec Deciphers Trends in CPT Coding at the 2012 ASCP Annual Meeting

Monday, July 23, 2012

A rock star among pathologists, Dr. Mark Synovec, MD, FASCP, will present the course “CPT Coding and Related CMS Payment Policy: Trends for Pathology and Laboratory Medicine” on Nov. 1 at the 2012 ASCP Annual Meeting in Boston. He will provide a summary of the latest issues related to Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) coding as it pertains to pathology and medical laboratory services, and speak about current trends in the CPT editorial process. He also will discuss the new code set for molecular pathology, and how it relates to Medicare payment policy.

“As medicine evolves, procedural coding that reflects those services must evolve too. It’s a very dynamic process and is especially important in the laboratory with the development of new molecular pathology tests. If you look at the size of the human genome, you get an idea of the potential tests that can be done for both neoplastic conditions and congenital aberrations.”
—Mark Synovec, MD, FASCP

In his professional life, Dr. Synovec wears many different hats. In addition to serving as President of Topeka Pathology Group in Topeka, Kan., he is the Medical Director of Stormont-Vail Healthcare laboratories, President of the Kansas Medical Society and a member of the Executive Committee of the American Medical Association’s CPT Editorial Panel. But first and foremost, he is a working pathologist.

“I enjoy the study of disease,” he said. “I feel comfortable in a laboratory and with my head in a microscope. And I like the complex analyses I can provide to obtain an accurate diagnosis for my patients, which is the first step in any optimal treatment plan.”

For Dr. Synovec, the attraction to laboratory work started early. He always loved science— biology in particular—and he considered a career as a medical laboratory scientist before switching to the pre-med track and graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Neb., with a bachelor’s degree in life sciences. After that, it was on to medical school and residency in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Neb.

Now, in addition to his general practice of pathology, including performing and interpreting fine-needle aspirations and bone marrow examinations as an anatomic and clinical pathologist, Dr. Synovec has become something of an expert on CPT coding. And, as the only pathologist on the CPT Editorial Panel, he plays a crucial role in ongoing efforts to come up with a code set that both payors, pathologists, and laboratory professionals can live with.

“As medicine evolves, procedural coding that reflects those services must evolve too,” he said. “It’s a very dynamic process and is especially important in the laboratory with the development of new molecular pathology tests. If you look at the size of the human genome, you get an idea of the potential tests that can be done for both neoplastic conditions and congenital aberrations.”

When Dr. Synovec isn’t thinking about pathology, he keeps busy with a number of other pursuits: tending the small herd of cattle he keeps on his 95-acre farm, using his professional fireworks license to put on private pyrotechnics shows, and taking to the skies as a member of a local flight club. Also, though perhaps not a rock star in the true sense, he enjoys playing acoustic guitar and ukulele—“for fun, not performance,” he stresses.

So while Dr. Synovec is not planning any musical accompaniment for the course he’ll teach at the 2012 ASCP Annual Meeting, the insights he’ll share about the revolution taking place in molecular diagnostics are sure to keep his audience engaged.


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