The cost of malnutrition: Nutrition program savings could add up to US$3,800 per patient


11 Aug 2017 --- The cost of poor nutrition has been laid bare by research published in the American Health & Drug Benefits journal and supported by healthcare company Abbott. The research shows that when not-for-profit healthcare system Advocate Health Care implemented a nutrition care program at four of its Chicago area hospitals in the US, cost savings hit more than US$4.8 million due to shorter hospital stays and lower readmission rates.

“Value-based care means looking comprehensively at patient care to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement,” says Lee Sacks, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Advocate Health Care. “The study's findings demonstrate that modest changes in the way we care for patients, such as ensuring patients are nourished during their hospital stay, can have a big impact in reducing costs and improving health outcomes.”

In 2014, Advocate Health Care started two models of a nutrition care program for patients at-risk of malnutrition, and the results from this study – published in December 2016 – found that doing so reduced 30-day readmission rates by 27 percent and the average hospital stay by nearly two days. To evaluate the cost savings of this program, researchers used a web-based budget impact model to determine the potential cost savings from the avoided readmissions and reduced time in the hospital.

Compared to the hospitals’ previous readmission rates and patients’ average length of stay, researchers found that optimizing nutrition care in the four hospitals resulted in roughly US$3,800 of cost savings per patient treated for malnutrition.

Dealing with malnutrition is now a growing concern, as it has been found that one in three people enter the hospital malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. Decades of research have proven that when patients are poorly nourished, it can impact their recovery, including a higher risk of complications – such as pressure ulcers, infections and falls – and more frequent readmissions.

Studies also show that poor nutrition can cause increased costs of care and longer hospital stays, with the average hospital stay costing nearly US$2,000 per day. As a result, different hospitals and health care systems are looking at the value of nutrition to improve care and help patients get back to living healthier lives.

“This research confirms that implementing nutrition-focused quality improvement programs, like the ones at Advocate Health Care, can help patients recover from their hospitalization faster while also removing some of the burden of financial pressures placed on health systems today,” says Suela Sulo, Ph.D., a health outcomes researcher at Abbott and lead author of the cost impact study. “As providers, administrators and payers face added pressures from rising healthcare costs, value-based nutrition interventions should be considered in all hospitals across the US.”

The benefits of nutrition on healthcare costs are not only being explored in the US, but also in Europe. A report by Frost & Sullivan, commissioned by Food Supplements Europe, found earlier this year that calcium and vitamin D food supplements could lead to big savings. The report put the total avoidable osteoporosis-related costs per year at €3.96 billion (US$4.66 billion). There is also mounting evidence that billions of euros worth of healthcare costs associated with cardiovascular disease could be avoided with more widespread food supplementation among target publications across the EU.

By Paul Creasy

Related Articles

Nutrition & Health News

“Unhelpful”: EU regulatory framework fuels nutrition industry dissatisfaction 

16 Feb 2018 --- A survey reveals that one-third of all nutrition industry professionals believe that the current EU framework for achieving a health claim on new products is stunting innovation because it’s complicated, expensive, long-winded and has several “gray areas.” And “regulation frustration” is a strong feeling running through the industry with many more professionals now believing the current EU regulatory environment is “unhelpful” – a 25 percent hike compared with statistics from the beginning of 2017. Experts are attributing this sharp rise in dissatisfaction to the EU’s tough stance on health claims and the current regulatory deadlock on botanicals.

Nutrition & Health News

Research driving demand for OPO in China’s formula market: Advanced Lipids

16 Feb 2018 --- OPO is increasing in popularity in China’s infant formula market, and according to Advanced Lipids, this is down to the growing body of scientific research backing the benefits of this ingredient. Also known as SN-2 palmitate, OPO is a premium quality ingredient that mimics the fatty acid profile of human milk.

Nutrition & Health News

Ultra-processed foods linked to heightened risk of cancer: major BMJ study

15 Feb 2018 --- Although processed foods have long been thought to be significantly less healthy than non-processed foods, an observational study published yesterday in BMJ has added some stark figures to the link between ultra-processed foods and the risk of cancer. The study concluded that a 10 percent increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet is associated with increases of 12 percent in the risk of overall cancer and 11 percent in the risk of breast cancer.

Nutrition & Health News

Saturated fat and sugar can cause depression and anxiety: study

14 Feb 2018 --- A diet rich in saturated fat, such as palm oil, and sugar not only leads to obesity, but it also creates inflammation in the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain that controls mood and the feeling of reward. This inflammation can lead to depressive, anxious and compulsive behavior and disrupt metabolism, according to a study from the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM). The discovery illustrates the vicious circle experienced by people with obesity caused by a diet rich in sugar and saturated fat, with their diet leading to negative emotions, which can stimulate the quest for more comfort through food.

Nutrition & Health News

Bridging the fiber gap: Tereos launches website on dietary fiber

13 Feb 2018 --- Consuming an adequate amount of fiber plays an important role in a wide range of health-related issues, by helping to reduce obesity, improve cholesterol and glycemic index levels and contribute to weight management. To educate consumers about dietary fibers, Tereos has launched a new website, which it says makes it easy to understand the company's Actilight fiber ingredient, its benefits and origin. 

More Articles