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Lower Healthcare Costs with Home-Delivered Meals

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Mar 17, 2015 3:30:00 PM

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This is the final post of our 5-part series, Impact of Nutrition Care on Patient Outcomes.  In this series, we reviewed original research that shows the impact nutrition care has on patient outcomes.


In the past few weeks, we have been reviewing research about the effect nutrition care has on patient outcomes. This week we will finish the series with a review of a pilot study that looked at the impact of home-delivered meals and nutrition counseling on the healthcare costs of chronically ill patients.

MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance) is a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia that cooks and delivers medically-appropriate meals and provides nutrition counseling to individuals that are chronically ill.  Most of the recipients have cancer, renal disease or HIV/AIDS. Socioeconomic status is not a factor in determining who can receive their services, however, most of their clients are Medicaid-eligible.  Each week, MANNA delivers 21 frozen meals to recipients.  They also offer nutrition counseling by a Registered Dietitian.

Researchers evaluated healthcare costs of two sample groups, MANNA clients and a comparison group, matched for gender, age, race, and ethnicity, for a 12-month period.  The comparison group contained members of a local Medicaid managed care organization (MCO).  Because only aggregate data was provided by the MCO, some members of the comparison group may have been receiving food resources.  The authors do not believe any were receiving home-delivered meals.

While the MANNA research was a pilot study, the results1 were still significant:

  • The total average monthly healthcare 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.

Per the CDC, chronic diseases are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems. Providing home-delivered meals to those with chronic conditions is an economical solution.  GA Foods’ home-delivered meals program allows members to have medically-appropriate, easy-to-prepare meals and remain independent in their homes.  Health plans that add post-discharge meals and chronic disease management meals to their supplemental benefits, see a return on investment of 3 to 1.

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1Gurvey, J, et al. J Prim Care & Comm Health 2013;4(4):311-317.

Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Chronic Disease Management, MCO ROI

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