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Mary O'Hara

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Let Us Take Nutrition Care Off Your Plate!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Jul 12, 2017 11:02:45 AM

Hunger-man-with-cane2.jpgWe know avoiding hospitalizations is a top priority for health plans. One way to keep your members out of the hospital, and to reduce the chance of readmission, is to prevent malnutrition. In fact, roughly one-third of patients who are not malnourished at admission will become so during their stay. Weight loss, being underweight, and failure-to-thrive/malnutrition have all been associated with readmission within 30 days of discharge.

Is My Member Malnourished? 

Here are some signs to look for to see if your members may be at risk for malnutrition:

  • Unplanned weight loss – This is usually a loss of muscle, not fat. 
  • Chronic Illness – Those on special diets for conditions such as diabetes and hypertension may need help managing their diets. Special diets such as these may exclude foods the patient prefers to eat. 
  • Recent hospitalization – Lack of appetite is common after an illness or injury. Members may not feel like eating or have the energy to cook.

Malnutrition is common after discharge.  Members may have difficulty preparing nutritionally balanced meals at home.  Busy caregivers may not know what meals are best for their loved ones.

Members who are malnourished face several risks:

  • Increased risk of pressure ulcers
  • Decreased wound healing
  • Higher rates of inflection
  • More hospital readmissions and higher healthcare costs. 

Food as Medicine

Proper nutrition can be like medicine for those suffering from a chronic condition. Those with diabetes and cardiac conditions need to adhere to diets that are low in sugar, fat, sodium, and cholesterol. 

Referring your members to a home-delivered meal provider will help to ensure they will be eating nutritious meals. Home-delivered meals after a hospitalization can help reduce malnutrition and improve results in managing chronic diseases and conditions. Post-discharge meals significantly impact both short-term recovery rates and the long-term health of members.

Six out of eight studies found that home-delivered meals significantly improved diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced food insecurity and nutritional risks among participants.  

To learn more about the impact of nutrition on the health of your members, download our eBook.

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Malnutrition, Post Discharge, Senior Nutrition

Chef Mike is Our Secret Ingredient!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Jun 29, 2017 10:03:25 AM

chef mike test kitchen.jpgGA Foods is proud of our Executive Chef, Mike Thrash. Chef Mike is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University and joined GA Foods in 2014. An award-winning chef, he enjoys creating new ways to reformulate recipes and enhance flavors, making him our secret ingredient for healthy meals senior adults love!!!

Chef Mike's menu planning includes the tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and umami. If you aren’t familiar with umami, it's a savory taste. Umami has a pleasurable effect on the overall satisfaction and enjoyment of a meal. As we age, our sweet and salt taste buds tend to be the most reliable. So we design meals that showcase sour, bitter, and umami.

Chef Mike uses his expertise to add flavor and flair to familiar foods. Here are some new menu items that will be available in July!

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  • Meatballs and Penne Pasta in Marinara
  • Three Bean Chili con Carne
  • Homemade Chicken Stew (pictured)
  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Breaded Fillet of Fish (pictured)
  • Grilled Pork Chop with Homestyle Gravy

To be sure GA Foods provides meals that seniors love, we conduct satisfaction surveys. Chef Mike and his culinary team use that feedback, along with trends, demographics, and seasonality data, to design menus. Through sensory analysis techniques, Chef achieves meals with maximum flavor, presentation, and satisfaction. All meals adhere to nutritional guidelines and promote senior health

For more information on senior health, click below.

Senior Nutrition

 

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Topics: Senior Health, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior Nutrition

Want a Faster Recovery? Ask for Help!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Jun 22, 2017 11:53:54 AM

Senior-Woman-Gardener-1.jpg

According to Kaiser Health News, 28 percent of patients (many being older adults) who are offered home health care services when they are discharged from the hospital, refuse the services available, which could lead to delayed recoveries, and reduced independence. Studies indicate that those who refuse post-discharge services may have higher rates of readmission to the hospital and a lower quality of life.

Time to Think About You!

After spending a lifetime supporting families and caring for others, many baby boomers find it difficult to ask for help. They may feel that accepting help is a weakness, and may lead to loss of control of their lives. In reality, accepting services can actually improve the recovery process, and help seniors to get better faster. 

Loss of independence is the number one fear among seniors. What many don’t realize are that the services available can help them to recover better in their own homes.

There are several services that Medicare may cover to help discharged patients get better at home.  A sample include skilled nursing, speech therapy, and physical therapy. Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover home-delivered meals as well.

The Role of Nutrition

One out of every three adults admitted to the hospital suffers from malnutrition. If untreated, two-thirds will become severely malnourished during their stay. Approximately one-third of patients who are not malnourished will become so by the time they are discharged.

If you have concerns that you, or a loved one, may be suffering from malnutrition, here are some things to look for:

  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Not eating or only eating small amounts
  • Weakness and/or fatigue

Several health plans offer home-delivered meals to their members after a hospital stay. These meals can significantly impact both short-term and recovery and the long-term health of patients. Weight loss and poor nutrient intake can delay the healing and recovery process, resulting in longer, more challenging recoveries.

Home-Delivered Meals

After returning home from the hospital, it may be difficult to prepare meals. This can be especially hard for those suffering from fatigue or limited mobility. Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals, help older Americans to live more independently. Seniors will have the reassurance of receiving nutritious meals delivered right to their home.

  • Home-delivered meals, after a hospitalization, may significantly reduce nutrition-related complications. 
  • Home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.
  • 92 percent of home-delivered meal recipients reported these meals allowed them to remain independent and living in their own homes.

Get Back Out There!

Today's active adults want to return to their normal activities as soon as possible. An illness or hospital stay doesn’t mean the end of a normal life for many. Sometimes a little help can go a long way to a faster, smoother recovery.

To find out if you, or a loved one, qualify for home-delivered meals, contact your health plan. Even those with chronic illnesses may qualify for home-delivered meals. Visit www.eldercare.gov to learn more.

Even after your recovery, remember eating nutritious foods can improve your overall health and give you the energy you need to stay active!  

Download our eBook for more information.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Medicare, Nutrition Care, Malnutrition, Post Discharge, Aging Well

Does Your Patient's Health Plan Offer Post-Discharge Meals?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on May 17, 2017 11:50:33 AM

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Case managers and discharge planners have many things to consider before their patients return home after a hospitalization.  You may not be aware that some healthcare plans now offer nutrition care benefits for post-discharge patients.

Benefits of Nutrition Care

 Post-discharge patients can benefit from nutrition care in several ways:
  • Promotes faster, more complete recoveries
  • Reduces risks of complications
  • Reduces hospital readmissions
  • Provides crucial support to patients with poor access to healthy foods
  • Increases overall health and quality of life
  • Decreases odds of further hospitalizations due to injury
  • Enhances management of chronic disease

After discharge, patients experience symptoms such as decreased energy, pain, weakness, poor appetite and health-related dietary restrictions. These symptoms can make preparing nutritious meals difficult. Home-delivered meals allow patients to have nutritious easy-to-prepare meals and remain independent in their homes.

Reduce Readmission Rates

A recent study shows low food security has a big impact on hospital readmissions. The study indicates the cause of food security for post-discharge patients includes:

  • 75 percent were unable to shop for food on their own
  • 58 percent were unable to prepare their own food
  • 30 percent were low or very low food secure
  • 25 percent were marginally food secure

Discharge Planning

Many transitional care plans are missing an important component – nutrition care. Providing access to food allows the frail and elderly to regain their strength and energy faster. Proper nutrition for those at risk improves patient outcomes following surgery or a hospitalization. Studies show nutrition assistance with home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.

Many health plans are adding home-delivered meals for seniors to the supplemental benefits.

Post-Discharge meals can help in several ways:

  • Improve patient's long-term health
  • Impact patient's short-term recovery
  • Maximize patient outcomes
  • Reduce costs

For more information, download our whitepaper, Transitional Care: is Your Model Missing a Key Component? 

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Topics: Healthcare Cost Reduction, Medicare, Post Discharge, Care Managers

No Place Like Home - Aging in Place for Seniors

Posted by Mary O'Hara on May 10, 2017 10:22:19 AM

Senior Couple at home.jpgAccording to  The National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC), more than 90 percent of older adults prefer to stay in their homes rather than move to a senior facility. One of the challenges you face as a case manager is helping seniors to age in place. People want to stay in their homes because they are most comfortable with what is familiar. 

Senior Nutrition

Malnutrition affects approximately 50 percent of older adults. Malnutrition in older adults can lead to higher healthcare costs, more frequent hospital admissions, and longer hospital stays. Since appetites can decrease with age, many seniors skip meals. This can make them more at risk for malnutrition. Health issues like diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be the result of a poor diet.

Aging causes the metabolism to slow down, resulting in the need for fewer calories. Seniors need to eat wholesome, balanced meals daily. They should also avoid processed foods that are high in sodium, sugar and fat.

Home-Delivered Meals 

Preparing meals may be difficult after a hospitalization or for those with chronic disease. This can be especially hard for those suffering from fatigue or limited mobility. Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals, helps older adults live more independently. Seniors will have the reassurance of receiving nutritious meals delivered right to their home.

  • Home-delivered meals, after a hospitalization, may significantly reduce nutrition-related complications. 
  • Home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.
  • 92 percent of home-delivered meal recipients reported these meals allowed them to remain independent and living in their own homes.

Studies show that home-delivered meals significantly improve diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduce food insecurity and nutritional risk.

As a home-delivered meal provider, GA Foods does more than deliver meals. They can be a second set of eyes and ears for case managers and care coordinators.  Field Service Representatives (FSRs) are trained to recognize potential issues when delivering meals to your members. If they identify any concerns, they contact the Customer Care Team with the information you need for follow-up. If it is an emergency situation, they will call 911 and make sure the Care Team contacts you immediately.   

Home-delivered meals may already be a benefit on your members' health plan. Home-delivered meals provide not only nutrition, but can increase the quality of life for those who wish to continue to be aging at home.

For more information, click on the image below to download our Aging in Place infographic:

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Nutrition Care, Care Managers, Aging Well, Senior Nutrition

Home-Delivered Meals - Safely Delivered!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on May 4, 2017 9:34:09 AM

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As a caregiver, you have many things to worry about. Food safety shouldn’t be one of them. When choosing a home-delivered meal provider, food safety and quality should be top priorities Selecting a provider that uses extensive food preparation safety procedures with a safe delivery model will provide peace of mind. 

Cold-Chain-Infographic_FINAL.jpgDon't Break the Chain

The “cold chain” process is one of the most effective and reliable methods of assuring food safety. This process ensures that food is maintained at temperatures that prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that can make you sick.  

The cold chain process transports perishable foods without using harmful preservatives and additives. This continuous cold chain ensures seniors will receive safe and healthy meals.

Here are some questions to ask when comparing home-delivered meal providers:

  • Is the food prepared fresh in an USDA-inspected facility?
  • Are the meals flash frozen to -19° F?
  • Is the food maintained in a cold storage at -10° F until delivery?
  • Is the food delivered to homes in specially-designed freezer trucks?
  • Do they have specially-trained drivers unpack meals and store them in freezer until ready to eat?

In-Home Meal Delivery

Some meal providers use third-party carriers, while others use their own employees. According to Consumer Reports, the number one complaint Americans had about meal delivery services was food that arrived spoiled, melted, or inedible.  When exploring home-delivery options, you may want to think about who will be making the delivery:

Here are some things to look for:

  • Drivers who wear uniforms and ID badges to readily identify themselves.
  • Drivers that undergo extensive background checks.
  • Delivery people who perform basic in-home observations. Some are trained and will alert case managers if they observe any unusual or life-threatening situations.
  • Frozen meals should never be left at the door. A reliable company will make arrangements to redeliver the food at a more convenient time. 

 GA Foods has been providing nutrition to seniors for over 40 years. They maintain control of the entire food preparation and delivery process. This further ensures the quality and safety of the food, and provides additional assurance to caregivers and families. You may also want to ask if the meals are suitable for diabetics and those with heart conditions. Meals that are low in sodium, sugar, and fat are best.

Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals, helps older adults live more independently. Seniors will appreciate receiving nutritious meals delivered right to their home by a familiar and friendly face!

Download this eBook to learn more about how to choose a home-delivered meal provider. 

 Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Nutrition, Home Delivered Meals, The Cold Chain, Food Safety, Caregivers, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior Nutrition

Can Post-Discharge Meals Improve Patient Outcomes?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Apr 5, 2017 11:00:00 AM

discharge-meals.jpgWhen patients go into the hospital, one thing they may not expect is to leave malnourished. But, that is exactly what occurs to one-third of patients admitted to hospitals. Malnutrition is not always recognized and often goes untreated during hospitalization. Weight loss and poor nutritional intake can delay the healing and recovery process. This may lead to more challenging recoveries, and in many cases, relaspse and readmission.

Disease-associated malnutrition is a common and widespread problem. Older adults are especially at risk. Clinical evidence shows that solid, well-balanced nutrition is essential to health. The effects of poor nutritional status are evident in those who were recently hospitalized and recovering from an acute illness. Malnutrition in the frail and elderly is an important area of concern. Poor outcomes related to malnutrition, may occur:

  • Increased risk of pressure ulcers
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Increased infection rate
  • Muscle wasting
  • Functional loss, resulting in more falls
  • Longer hospital stays
  • Higher readmission rates
  • Higher treatment costs
  • Increased mortality

Nutrition Care and Patient Outcomes

Research shows that nutritional intervention has a positive impact on patient outcomes. Benefits include:

  • 25 percent reduction in pressure ulcer incidence
  • 14 percent fewer overall complications
  • 28 percent decrease in avoidable readmissions
  • 2-day reduction in average length of stay

The Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition recommends taking action to improve patient outcomes. Here are some steps: 

  • Recognize and diagnose all patients at risk for malnutrition.
  • Rapidly implement nutrition interventions and continue to monitor patients..
  • Develop a discharge plan for patient nutrition care and education. 

Post-Discharge Planning

Many transitional care plans are missing an important component – nutrition care. Providing access to food allows the frail and elderly to regain their strength and energy faster. Proper nutrition for those at risk improves patient outcomes following surgery or a hospitalization.

Many health plans are adding home-delivered meals for seniors to the supplemental benefits. Post-discharge meals significantly impact both short-term recovery results and the long-term health of patients. 

For more information, download our ebook, The Impact of Nutrition Care and Patient Outcomes.

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Home Delivered Meals, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Post Discharge

How to Reduce Healthcare Costs with Home-Delivered Meals

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Mar 29, 2017 3:50:26 PM

senior-couple-hospital.jpg

Malnutrition is a surprising problem in America. One out of every three patients admitted to the hospital suffer from malnutrition. If untreated, two-thirds will become severely malnourished during their stay. Approximately one-third of patients who are not malnourished will become so by the time they are discharged.

Increased Risk of Complications 

Malnutrition in older adults affects clinical outcomes and increases complexity of care. Poor nutrition status impairs the immune system in several ways and can lead to other negative outcomes:

  • Delays wound healing and causes unhealthy changes in body composition
  • Reduces muscle strength
  • Decreases the function and efficiency of vital organs, potentially affecting the kidneys, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems
  • Can lead to fatigue, apathy, and depression
  • Longer recovery times and increased risk of complications compared to well-nourished patients

Malnutrition Leads to Longer Hospital Stays

Malnutrition can impact more than patients. It can also have financial consequences to hospitals and managed care organizations. Malnutrition can increase the length of hospital stays and complications. This can lead to higher costs for hospitals and health plans.

Higher hospital readmissions and poorer patient outcomes are other results of malnutrition. For many, readmissions can occur within 30 days of discharge. Higher readmissions can reduce reimbursement rates under the Affordable Care Act. Per the Advisory Board, Medicare will reduce reimbursements for 2,597 hospitals in 2017. The readmission penalty results in a combined loss to hospitals of $528 million. Malnutrition-associated diseases in adults cost the U.S. $15.5 billion each year. 

Home-Delivered Meals Improve Patient Outcomes

Home-delivered meals after a hospitalization can help reduce malnutrition and improve results in managing chronic diseases and conditions.  Read this article to learn how a nonprofit organization addressed this widespread problem. MANNA, based in Philadelphia, reduced costs by providing home-delivered meals to their clients. Home-delivered meal recipients also had 50 percent fewer hospital stays, and those admitted to the hospital, had a 37 percent shorter stay.

To learn more, download our paper, Reduce Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes with Post-Discharge Meals.  It explains how nutrition care during the post-discharge period can maximize patient outcomes, and lower costs for hospitals, managed care organizations, and health plans.

Download White Paper - Reducing Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Home Delivered Meals, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Nutrition Care, Post Discharge

Can Home-Delivered Meals Improve Your HCAHPS Score?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Feb 15, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Hospital-Post-Discharge-Meals.jpgThe Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is the survey used to measure patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience. The survey asks discharged patients 32 questions about their recent hospital stay. Patient perceptions and experiences directly impact your facility’s Medicare reimbursement

Patient satisfaction is a top priority. You can no longer focus only on patient procedures, diagnoses, and outcomes. You must consider how pleasant and comfortable the patients’ hospital stay is.

A positive hospital-patient relationship can instill trust and loyalty, which results in higher HCAHPS scores. A hospital’s reputation in the community may influence consumers, who have choices in their healthcare. It’s estimated that 67 percent of patients select where they want to go for medical care. 

Shifting Priorities

 “The patient experience in healthcare is ultimately the human experience," states Jason Wolf, PhD., president of the Beryl Institute. Research from the Beryl Institute shows: 

  • Patient experience remains a top priority around the world and throughout the continuum of care. 
  • Organizations are investing in providing a great experience for patients.  Currently, 42 percent of healthcare institutions have a chief experience officer role. In 2013, that number was only 22 percent, and the trend is growing. 

In 2013, one of the main goals of hospitals was to reduce noise. The focus has shifted now to making the following top priorities:

  • Service
  • Communication
  • Patient voice
  • Compassion
Hospital employee engagement programs are growing. Engaged employees are a key factor in driving a positive patient experience.  Every interaction with a patient matters. 

Care Transitions

Your transitional care plan can add to the positive experience for your discharged patients. The HCAHPS survey includes questions relating to care transitions:

During my hospital stay, staff took my preferences and those of my family or caregiver into account in deciding what my health care needs would be when I left.

Some things to consider before your patients return home: 

Will your patients have access to nutritious meals at their home? Weight loss and poor nutrition intake can delay the healing and recovery process. This could result in longer, more challenging recoveries, and in many cases, relapse and readmission.

Do patients have family members to assist with grocery shopping and preparing hot meals? Preparing meals can be difficult for those recovering from a hospitalization, surgery, or illness.

When I left the hospital, I had a good understanding of the things I was responsible for in managing my health.

Patients will have a more positive experience of their stay if they feel the hospital still cares about them after they are discharged.

Are they aware of any dietary restrictions they may have?

Does their health plan include a post-discharge home-delivered meal benefit? If it doesn't, many hospitals are now providing meals post hospital discharge. This benefit is another way to boost the patient experience. Post-hospitalization programs that include the management of nutritional status and depression may reduce hospital readmissions. 

Nutrition care is a key component to improving patient outcomes. Malnutrition is one of the greatest contributors to hospitalizations and readmissions. 

Home-delivered meals can help extend a positive experience beyond your facility. Patients who receive home-delivered meals after hospitalization regain their strength and energy faster. Well-nourished post-discharge patients are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.

Providing post-discharge meals can help ensure a smooth transition from hospital to home. 

Download White Paper: Transitional Care: Is Your Model Missing a Key Component? 

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Post Discharge

Beyond the Sneaker - Home-Delivered Meals

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Feb 8, 2017 11:00:00 AM


Silver Sneaker.pngSeniors have many choices when selecting Medicare Advantage health plans. Many plans include supplemental benefits like vision, dental, and fitness plans.

But, what do seniors really want from their health plans? They want benefits that help them maintain their independence and stay in their own homes. For many seniors, preparing meals after a hospitalization may be difficult. Many don’t have families who are nearby.

What do Members Look for in Supplemental Benefits?

In today’s market you need to ensure you’re providing the best member experience – while keeping an eye on the bottom line.

  • Home-delivered meals can reduce hospitalizations by 50 percent.
  • Members who receive home-delivered meals after a hospital stay regain their strength and energy faster.
  • Studies show nutrition assistance like home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.

Members like having a home-delivered meal benefit. In fact, 92 percent of home-delivered meal recipients report this benefit gives them the independence they want.

Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals after a hospitalization or as part of chronic disease management, maximize member outcomes, while reducing healthcare costs.

Nutrition care:

  • Promotes faster, more complete recoveries
  • Reduces risk of complications
  • Provides crucial support to patients with poor access to healthy foods
  • Improves overall health and quality of life
  • Decreases odds of further hospitalizations due to injury
  • Enhances management of chronic diseases

Home-delivered meals can help improve patient outcomes after an acute stay. Members with chronic illnesses will appreciate the ease and convenience that home-delivered meals provide.

Home-Delivered Meals Can Improve Star Ratings

Offering home-delivered meals as a benefit may lead to more satisfied members. This benefit may mean better star ratings for your plan. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will use 2017 star ratings to determine the bonuses it will pay to insurers in 2018.

McKinsey & Co. determined the top three domains that influenced scores. Take a look at how home-delivered meals can help boost your ratings:

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Health plans that added post-discharge meals and chronic disease management meals to their supplemental benefits saw a 3:1 return on investment.

Offer your members a benefit that will make your plan standout from the rest!

 Download White Paper - Reduce Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes with Post Discharge Meals


    

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Medicare, Medicaid, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior Health Plans

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