Articles and Information from GA Foods

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

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

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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

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