| One-Minute Clinician

What’s the Diff?

A lot of people think that there is no difference between multidisciplinary care and interdisciplinary care or the teams that are multi- or interdisciplinary, and the terms really should not be interchangeable. They mean very different things. The thing they have in common is people from different professions all working with the same patient. What’s different in multidisciplinary care—it means that I might have a treatment plan that I devised for a patient and my colleague might have a treatment plan devised for the same patient, but we share our treatment plans after they’re created and they don’t necessarily influence each other because they typically get shared after the fact. Interdisciplinary, on the other hand, means that the two treatment plans would be directly influenced by each other. I may not complete my treatment plan until I have my colleagues input, and what I previously thought could be different based on that input from my colleague. We have a lot of work to do to advocate for better reimbursement for interdisciplinary treatment options. We still are sorely lacking options in the community. Interdisciplinary treatment can be expensive because it’s resource intense, but also gets the best outcomes. Interdisciplinary treatment programs far outperform multidisciplinary care or standard medical approaches for persistent pain conditions. In our interdisciplinary care settings, we do need to be mindful of the charge codes that we’re submitting because we get reimbursed through third-party payers on some occasions. And I work for the Department of Veterans Affairs, so that’s the perspective from which I’m sharing my experience. While we might be co-located or sitting in the same office while we evaluate the patient, from time to time, we are careful to split the time with each other and only charge for the time that we were each working with or talking to the patient. We also have unique billing codes and need to make sure that we’re not double charging for a patient interaction if, say, we are two professionals working with the same patient in the same hour. It’s still a work in progress.