In order to guide effective dietary changes, patients
with certain conditions can be provided Medical Nutrition
Therapy (MNT). Despite the effectiveness of MNT,
comparatively low utilization rates have been observed in
populations with certain conditions, and socioeconomic
and gender differences in utilization and compliance with
MNT-recommended regimens have been observed. The
objective of this study was to examine the utilization of
MNT services in rural versus urban communities.
We used 2012-2016 Medicare provider data, Healthcare
Common Procedure Coding System codes, and Current
Procedural Terminology codes to determine the number of
hours of MNT services provided, the number of healthcare
providers administering the service, and the number of
beneficiaries served by each provider. Provider services
and beneficiaries were aggregated at the county level.
Rural-Urban Continuum Codes were used to assign counties
to rural versus urban designations.
The results suggest that urban MNT providers may
administer more services and see more patients on average
than rural MNT providers. There may also be either a
greater need for MNT services in rural areas where
available or an inability to meet full demand in urban
counties. Services also vary geographically.