From the Group Practice Solutions newsletter (www.hcpromarketplace.com):
The distinction between a request for a consultation and a referral seems straightforward at first glance. A consultation occurs when a physician gives an opinion/advice about a patient’s care at the request of another physician or appropriate source. For a referral, a physician transfers a patient’s care to the receiving physician. Doctors should bill for referral encounters as (lower-paying) regular office visits, not as consultations.