With a total annual cost of disease-associated malnutrition in the U.S. totaling more than $147 billion, it is perhaps perplexing and troubling that nutrition still remains poorly misunderstood by healthcare providers, administrators and payers alike. But mistaken or not, over the past few years, one thing is certain: Reducing hospital readmissions is at the forefront of healthcare organizations across the country.
While your patients are in your care, you provide them with quality nutrition care. But, what happens when they go home?
Many transitional care plans may be missing an important piece – 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 hospitalization.
Addressing the social determinants of health (SDOH) is increasingly important to hospitals and healthcare systems. In fact, medical care determines only 20 percent of overall health -- while social, economic, and environmental factors determine 50 percent of overall health. Extending ways to help patients stay healthy outside the hospital can help patients, communities, and hospitals. SDOH include all factors outside of the hospital that affects patients, such as:
Hospitals face many challenges when patients are discharged. Some concerns include if patients understand their care plan and need for follow up appointments. Will your patients have access to healthy meals when they return home? What if they are unable to shop or prepare meals for themselves?
When patients go into the hospital, one thing they may not expect is to leave malnourished. But, that is what occurs to one-third of patients admitted to hospitals. Malnutrition is not always recognized and often goes untreated during hospitalization. Weight loss and inadequate nutritional intake can delay the healing and recovery process. This may lead to more challenging recoveries, and in many cases, relapse and readmission.
Case managers are often on the front lines of telemedicine. They have the expertise to provide help to their members, or patients, on managing chronic conditions or treating minor illnesses by phone or virtual online visits.
Telemedicine, or telehealth, is proven to be a cost-effective alternative to traditional doctor office visits. There are various studies that find telemedicine can help lower hospital readmissions and reduce healthcare costs.
An increasing number of health plans across the U.S. are expanding their benefits to include telemedicine services for their members. Plans like Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare are examples of those offering these services. In fact, 76 percent of health systems have or will be implementing consumer telehealth in some capacity by December 2018.
Nutrition Care Can Reduce Hospital Admissions
Health care professionals are always looking for better ways to keep members out of the hospital and to reduce their length of stay. Yet, the role of nutrition remains poorly understood by providers, administrators, and payers. One of the leading causes for readmission to the hospital is malnutrition.
Adopting a positive attitude can go far in dealing with the changes associated with aging. In fact, according to Kaiser Health News, those who have a positive outlook on aging live 7.5 years longer. Studies show that older adults who hold negative stereotypes about aging tend to walk more slowly, experience memory problems, and recover less fully from a fall or fracture.
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
When 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.