Registered Dietitians' Coding Practices and Patterns of Code Use

Jane V. White, Keith T. Ayoob, Melinda A. Benedict, Michele D. Chynoweth, Mary Gregoire, Robert L. Howard, Audrey McCool, Scott Parrott, Susan H. Ramsey, Charlotte Thiessen, Kim N. Thomsen, Tori Bender, Esther Myers, Pam Michael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Coding, coverage, and reimbursement are vital to the clinical segment of our profession. The objective of this study was to assess understanding and use of the medical nutrition therapy (MNT) procedure codes. Its design was a targeted, cross-sectional, Internet survey. Participants were registered dietitians (RDs) preselected based on Medicare Part B provider status, randomly selected RDs from the American Dietetic Association database based on clinical practice designation, and self-selected RDs. Parameters assessed were knowledge and use of existing MNT and/or alternative procedure codes, barriers to code use/compensation, need for additional codes for existing/emerging services, and practice demographics. Results suggest that MNT is being reimbursed for a variety of diseases and conditions. Many RDs working in clinic settings are undereducated about code use of any kind, reporting that code selection frequently is determined not by the RD providing the service, but by "someone else." Self-employed RDs are less likely to rely on others to administrate paperwork required for reimbursement, including selection of procedure codes for billable nutrition services. Self-employed RDs are more likely to be reimbursed by private or commercial payers and RDs working in clinic settings are more likely to be reimbursed by Medicare; however, the proportion of Medicare providers in both groups is high. RDs must be knowledgeable and accountable for both the business and clinical side of their nutrition practices; using correct codes and following payers' claims processing policies and procedures. This survey and analysis is a first step in understanding the complex web of relationships between clinical practice, MNT code use, and reimbursement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1242-1248
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Volume108
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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