We 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.