"Overall, there needs to be a cultural shift where nutrition is valued through interdisciplinary collaboration," says Tappenden. "Probably one of the most important changes hospital administrators can make is to provide nutrition-related ordering privileges to registered dietitians, rather than it being the responsibility of the physicians on staff."
She also says that as hospitals increasingly move to EHRs, it is critical to incorporate malnutrition screening and criteria, with automated triggers for the registered dietitians, and to incorporate nutrition into discharge planning and patient education.
If you're interested in improving nutritional screening and nutrition among your patient population, help is available. In June, the Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition released its nutrition care recommendations, which outline six principles to help transform nutrition practices in hospitals nationwide.
"I think the evidence is compelling and it's a call to action for a lot of reasons—one being the new [CMS] penalties," says Snider. "But ultimately people come to their jobs in healthcare to help people get better, and in this case it's a win-win."