According to a new study published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, patients who are exposed to nutrition-based care that includes “malnutrition risk screening and at-home use of oral nutritional supplements” are 25% less likely to require hospitalization. Katie Riley, RN, of Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Illinois, claims this is because “identification and treatment of malnutrition across the care continuum can help prevent illness onset or relapse and maximize the effectiveness of other medical treatments –” and truth is in the numbers.
Essentially, the team implemented a “nutrition-focused quality improvement program” for patients at a home health agency to evaluate just how much of an impact it would have on subsequent hospitalizations rates and total care costs. Overall, more than 75% of the patients involved with the study were over the age of 65. At the start of the experiment, patients involved in the program were thoroughly assessed to determine malnutrition risk. Then, patients would undergo extensive nutrition-based education to help teach them the importance of a well-balanced diet, as well as what that might look like in practice. Finally, each patient was given a unique nutrition care plan, as well as oral supplements, to begin their personal health journeys.
After 90 days, Riley and the rest of the researcher involved in the project found compelling evidence that in addition to patients being significantly less likely to require hospitalization after being a part of the study, “total cost saving from reduced 90-day health care resource utilization was $2,318,894,” which equates to roughly $1,500 per patient.
What Does This Mean For You?
Simply by being more involved and monitoring your patients’ nutrition, you can dramatically impact both the efficiency of your food service department and the quality of care your patients receive. This can easily be accomplished by establishing various educational resources to make sure your patients have access to the information they need to make the healthiest decisions, and simply keeping a closer eye on their physical appearance and mental/emotional state of being. Study co-author, Suela Sulo, PhD, of Abbott Research & Development in Columbus, Ohio, specifically recommends primary care staff “look for things like unintentional weight loss, decreased appetite, recent illness/injury and hospitalization, underlying health issues, tiredness and a lack of energy or strength,” as these could be signs of malnutrition.
The point is, unplanned readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries alone have been know to cost as much as $12 billion per year, and with quality-of-care measures based on patient readmissions now determining reimbursement provisions as well, you simply can’t afford any errors. Besides, your patients deserve the best care possible. If you need additional support, Vision Software and our array of impressively innovative food service software applications will always be here for you! Call 629.777.8989, or fill in the free consultation form in the sidebar, to learn more about how Vision Software can positively impact the lives of the patients and visitors you service every day.