Articles and Information from GA Foods

How to Reduce Healthcare Costs with Home-Delivered Meals

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

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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.

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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

Does Food Security Impact Hospital Readmissions?

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Apr 20, 2016 9:59:59 AM

food_insecurity_blog.jpg

Food Security (or Insecurity) Defined!

Food security, or insecurity, is a social, cultural or economic status, whereas hunger is a physiological condition – the physical pain and discomfort someone experiences. Hunger doesn’t describe the scope of food security, or insecurity, which is when people do not have access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a validated survey with 18 questions to determine a person’s level of food security. Based on the answers to these questions, the USDA defines the levels of food security as:

  • High food security: answers “no” to all 18 questions.
  • Marginal food security: answers “yes” to one or two questions.
  • Low food security: answers “yes” to three or more questions.
  • Very low food security: answers “yes” to five or more questions in homes without children or “yes” to eight or more questions in households with children.

Food Security Among the Elderly

In the US, 48.1 million people live in households with low or very low food security. Of those people, 20% or 9.6 million are seniors. Seniors with low food security tend to have medical and mobility challenges. Per AARP, those at the greatest risk for low food security are the poor, minorities, the unemployed, the disabled, and those living in the South.

Older adults above the poverty level may also be at risk for low food security, particularly if they are unable to shop for and prepare foods.

Consequences of Low Food Security

Low food security is a strong predictor of health problems like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and pulmonary disease. Adding to the problem, these chronic conditions increase the medical expenses of those with low food security, often forcing them to choose between paying for medical care and buying food. In turn, the chronic conditions increase healthcare expenditures paid by health plans, Medicare and/or Medicaid.

A recent study looked at the impact that low food security has on high rates of hospital readmissions. They interviewed 40 adults with three or more hospitalizations within a 12-month period. Here are their findings:

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

The researchers recommend interventions that educate and connect patients with unmet food needs to community resources after discharge. 

hospitalization_LR.pngTransition Care Planning

Healthcare professionals need to evaluate a patient’s food security level as part of the transitional care plan upon discharge from the hospital. Most transition care models don’t incorporate nutrition care, including screening for unmet food needs, after discharge. A guide from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, recommends addressing food security as a strategy to avoid readmissions for diverse populations. After a hospitalization, patients generally have decreased energy, pain, weakness, and a poor appetite, putting those with low food security at an even greater risk for malnutrition, and associated poor outcomes.

Connecting low food secure patients with resources such as home-delivered meals (HDM), decreases their need for shopping and cooking after a hospitalization. HDMs provide a regular source of nutritious food for those that need it for their recovery, reducing medical costs and the risk of a hospital readmission.

 

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Senior Health, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Food Insecurity, Medicare, Food Security, Malnutrition, Medicaid

Meal Delivery Service for At-Risk Patients

Posted by John Siegel on Feb 10, 2016 10:03:20 AM

John Siegel is the VP of Business Development for GA Foods.  He has extensive experiencworking with health care organizations to optimize benefits provided to their members. Contact John at 954-732-6886 or jsiegel@gafoods.com to learn how your organization may benefit by providing these well-received services.

Food Insecurity in At-risk Populations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that in 2014 a total of three million households with seniors (age 65 and older), and over one million seniors living alone, were food insecure. In other words, they don’t have reliable access to an adequate amount of food to meet their daily nutrition requirements.

food_or_medicine_LR.pngAt-risk patients (elderly and chronically ill) with food insecurity may have to choose between paying for their food or for their medication. Inadequate nutrition and/or medication non-compliance leads to increased health care utilization, such as more frequent hospitalizations and readmissions. Compounding the issue, after a hospitalization, patients experience symptoms such as decreased energy, pain, weakness, poor appetite and health-related dietary restrictions. These symptoms make preparing and eating nutritious meals difficult. Weight loss and poor nutrient intake can delay the healing and recovery process, resulting in longer, more challenging recoveries, creating a cycle of relapse and readmission.

The Role of Nutrition Care

Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals (HDM) after a hospitalization or as part of chronic disease management, maximizes patient outcomes while reducing health care costs.

Nutrition care:

  • Promotes faster, more complete recoveries
  • Reduces risk of complications
  • Reduces hospital readmissions
  • 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 disease

Perhaps more important than these significant outcomes is that an overwhelming majority (92%) of HDM recipients reported these meals allowed them to remain independent and living in their own homes, improving their quality of life. By decreasing their need for shopping and cooking, a meal delivery service provides a regular source of nutritious food for those that need it for their recovery process.

Access to Food

Providing access to food for at-risk patients also reduces health care expenditures paid by Medicare and/or Medicaid and health plans. One study with significant results was from MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance), a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia that cooks and delivers medically-appropriate meals and provides nutrition counseling to individuals that are chronically ill. Researchers evaluated health care costs of two sample groups, MANNA clients and a comparison group, matched for gender, age, race, and ethnicity, for a 12-month period. Here are the results from their study:

  • The total average monthly health care costs were $28,000 for MANNA clients and $41,000 for the comparison group.
  • The average cost of a hospitalization was $132,000 for MANNA clients and $220,000 for the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients had 50% less hospitalizations than the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients’ length of stay was 37% shorter than the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients were 20% more likely to be discharged from the hospital to their home rather than to long-term care.

Given the proven benefits for all involved, its no surprise that hundreds of U.S. hospitals, many large health systems and a growing number of health insurance plans are implementing and/or approving post-discharge home-delivered meals as part of their transition care services.

Is your transition care model missing a key component? Click here to download our newest white paper.

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Topics: Chronic Disease Management, MCO ROI, Healthcare Cost Reduction

Reduce Healthcare Costs with Home Delivered Meals

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Sep 8, 2015 12:02:20 PM

1 Out of Every 3 Patients Admitted to the Hospital is Malnourished!

Many Americans are surprised to learn that malnutrition is a very real problem among hospitalized patients in the U.S. In fact, research has shown that approximately one of every three patients admitted to a hospital is malnourished. Left untreated, about two-thirds of those patients will become more severely malnourished during their hospitalization. Approximately one-third of patients who are not suffering from malnutrition upon hospital admission will become malnourished by the time they are discharged.

Malnutrition Increases the Risk of Complications from Diseases

Malnutrition has far-reaching effects, causing impairment on many levels. Poor nutritional status impairs the immune system, delays wound healing, causes unhealthy changes in body composition, reduces muscle strength and can decrease the function and efficiency of vital organs and systems, such as the kidneys, respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and more. Malnutrition is also associated with fatigue, apathy and depression. These effects and others contribute to poor treatment outcomes as compared to well-nourished patients, including longer recovery times and increased risk of complications.

Malnutrition Increases the Length and Complexity of Care of Hospitalized Patients

Malnutrition among patients also has consequences for the medical facilities that treat them, as well as managed care organizations, health plans, and other stakeholders in the medical system. The effects of malnutrition can significantly increase the overall length and complexity of care in these patients, which substantially increases the costs associated with treatment. Additionally, poor nutrition and the poorer outcomes that come with it often mean more frequent hospitalizations – and in many cases, readmissions within 30 days of discharge. Newer reimbursement rules, implemented under the Affordable Care Act, impose financial penalties for readmissions.  Per Kaiser Health News, beginning in October, nearly 2,600 hospitals will receive lower payments for every Medicare patient.  These hospitals lost a combined total of $420 million due to the readmission penalty.  

Home Delivered Meals Maximize Patient Outcomes and Minimize Costs

Providing home delivered meals after a hospitalization or as part of the treatment plan for chronic disease management can reduce complications and readmissions. For more information, read this article about MANNA in Philadelphia and how they reduced healthcare costs with home delivered meals. 

Our white paper, Reduce Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes with Post-Discharge Meals, reviews the body of evidence that shows how post-discharge meals can maximize patient outcomes while reducing healthcare costs.  Download our white paper now to learn more about nutrition care during the post-discharge period and how nutrition care will improve your outcomes as a hospital, managed care organization or health insurer.

Download White Paper - Reducing Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes

 

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Healthcare Cost Reduction

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