RDNs on the Road: Focusing on What Matters at CNM Symposium 2023

May 15, 2023

The 2023 CNM Symposium was held April 27-29 in Raleigh, NC. Now that we’ve finished unpacking our bags and catching up on sleep, we can finally process (and share) everything we learned at the conference.

It was a rewarding and refreshing few days talking with the clinical management community about the things that matter most right now. When it comes to improving health outcomes and elevating the importance of nutrition care, we walked away with three key takeaways:

1.   Structured Data, Interoperability and Quality Reporting Matter
We know nutrition data is often documented and organized differently across health systems — and even across individual hospitals. So it was exciting to hear about advances being made to support consistent and structured data management to help track the clinical effectiveness of nutrition interventions.

Presenters shared how standardized charting with discrete fields using consistent terminology mappings to coded values supports interoperability, or the ability to share data both within and between systems. But it’s also the foundation for the move to electronic clinical quality measures (eCQM) reporting — which will be needed for the new Global Malnutrition Composite Score. Speaker Sandra Miller noted that “eCQM data can’t be reported if the ‘system’ can’t find it.” So be sure that includes all your screening and assessment results with date/time stamps in the record.

Unsure where to start... Consider performing a gap analysis and collaborating with a multidisciplinary team including quality and data analysts, clinical informatics, coders and IT, as well as clinicians.

We heard how structured nutrition data is being collected for registry research studies that will help illustrate the long-term impact of nutrition care. And importantly, plans were shared to add Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) data exchange capabilities between ANDHII and EHRs — which will make it easier for RDNs to collect data on outcomes research and track and submit quality measures for reimbursement. It’s an exciting time to work in Clinical Informatics, and it’s gratifying to see the latest technical innovations to help support our missions.

2.   Medically Tailored Meals Matter
One particularly interesting session shared the experience of running Medically Tailored Meal programs, and the evidence backing up their importance. In these programs, home-delivered meals are prepared under RD supervision to meet an individual or population’s unique nutritional needs. They have been shown to improve nutrition and overall health, reduce hospital readmissions and reduce hospital length of stay. It was a wonderful discussion, and an important reminder of the importance of nutrition care every day — not just when people are in the hospital.

3.   Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Matter
The dietetics field is no stranger to a lack of diversity. As one session pointed out, ~80% of dietetics professionals are white, and the situation doesn’t seem to be improving. In fact, the past 18 years have seen an 11.6% decrease in the number of black dietetic students and interns. It’s clear our industry needs to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion. While we focus on helping our patients, we also need to question our status quos. That means examining our own biases and creating opportunities to welcome underrepresented groups into our field. Greater inclusivity in our profession will help us fight those biases and improve health equity in all the populations we serve.

When returning from a conference, there is never a shortage of work to be done. But conferences like CNM Symposium are so important to helping us connect, share learnings and focus our efforts where the need is greatest. We enjoyed connecting with many of you there. And if we missed you, we hope you’ll reach out to talk with us about the nutritional needs in your organization.

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