Success with Health and Well-Being Coaching Codes
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) successfully applied to the American Medical Association (AMA) for new Health and Well-being Coaching Category III Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) codes that certified health coaches can now use to identify and report this service accurately.
As VA’s approach to care moves from “find it, fix it” health care to one guided by patients’ needs, “coaching is the lynchpin of the transformational model,” according to Dr. Kavitha Reddy, who led the VA team that made the AMA application. Dr. Reddy is an emergency and integrative medicine physician who also serves as the Whole Health System Clinical Director at VA St. Louis Healthcare System in Missouri. Whole Health is VA’s patient-centered approach to care that considers the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences on Veteran patients.
There are nearly 2,300 VA trained Whole Health Coaches working in VA medical centers and clinics. Coaches help Veterans as they develop personal health plans, working with them to discover what matters to them and set goals. Together the patient and coach consider complementary and integrative health and well-being programs that may involve physical activities, contemplative practices, or creative expressions. Coaches offer patients support and attention to help them stay on track to meet their health and well-being goals and live Whole Health.
As a physician who looks to Whole Health Coaches to help with her patients, Dr. Reddy says, “Knowing I have a health coach who can dive deeper into the challenges for behavior change is awesome.”
VA made the application for codes in response to a growing enthusiasm for Whole Health and the desire for more precise coaching data. “We have seen a tremendous growth in the number of (VA) sites who want to implement this model of care, and our ability to track who was delivering coaching with specificity was really limited by the lack of CPTs,” Dr. Reddy says. “We thought it was the right time to approach AMA because we had the volume and the literature to support the need for these codes.”
The formalized tracking from the codes will provide VA more data on coaching to better assess how it is impacting the health and well-being of Veterans. Use of the codes may also increase recognition of Health and Well-being Coaching as a valuable service and make its usage more common in health care nationwide.
The new Health and Well-being Coaching codes are Category III codes, a temporary designation to track new and emerging services and procedures. CPT codes are created, trademarked, and published by the AMA. The data generated is essential because Medicare and insurers look at evidence of effectiveness, improved outcomes, and potential financial savings when deciding if a treatment or service is covered.
These codes include:
- 0591T Health and Well-being Coaching face-to-face; individual, initial assessment
- 0592T individual, follow-up session, at least 30 minutes
- 0593T group (two or more individuals), at least 30 minutes
As the transition to Whole Health progresses, VA is looking at other well-being programs that might also benefit from assigned codes. For more information, talk to your provider about Whole Health offerings available to you.