Practitioners face barriers to reimbursement for lifestyle medicine interventions

Respondents included dietitians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physiotherapists and physicians.

Research results show that many doctors and other clinicians are precluded from helping patients make these changes.

A survey of 1,286 practitioners shows that 55% reported receiving no reimbursement for lifestyle medicine practices, while 27% reported some reimbursement and 18% were reimbursed for all of their lifestyle medicine procedures. life, according to research results from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

Respondents included dietitians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physiotherapists and physicians.

Respondents shared specific examples of barriers for both clinicians and patients, such as a Medicare patient who was denied coverage from a nutrition-focused weight management program in favor of expensive surgery.

“Chronic disease management guidelines clearly recommend behavioral changes in health, but many reimbursement barriers discourage or prevent healthcare professionals from helping patients make lifestyle changes,” said the study author Kelly Freeman, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, DipACLM in a press release. “If optimal health outcomes are truly the goal, more resources are needed to better inform the most impactful types of lifestyle interventions and how to successfully implement them in a sustainable manner.”

Some survey respondents recommended several changes that would improve their ability to practice lifestyle medicine. Key suggestions included better electronic medical record capabilities, policy changes to incentivize better health outcomes and billing codes specific to lifestyle medicine, and reimbursement for time spent with patients.

The study authors proposed that specific policy changes must change to accommodate limitations in payment and reimbursement models. An example proposal is to develop new quality measures that focus on clinical outcomes and patient experience to treat remission and reversal of chronic disease.

“Now is the time to recognize that treatment with lifestyle medicine is valuable care,” said Micaela Karlsen, PhD, MSPH, director of research for ACLM, in the release. “Practitioners capable of achieving results such as remission from type 2 diabetes, genuine improvements in well-being and reductions in medication should be compensated for their services in a manner commensurate with the value they provide. . “


Reimbursement difficulties for lifestyle medicine interventions are a major barrier for health care practitioners, according to a study. EurêkAlert! Press release. November 15, 2021. Accessed November 17, 2021.

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