Tackling malnutrition in American hospitals could help save millions of dollars by shortening hospital stays and lowering readmission rates, says a new study conducted in four Chicago area hospitals. A new study published in American Health & Drug Benefits found that screening patients on admission, rapidly starting at-risk patients on oral nutritional supplements, and educating them on supplement adherence produced significant reductions in hospital stays and readmission rates.
This results in costs savings of almost $5 million for Advocate Health Care across four of its Chicago area hospitals. Compared to the hospitals’ previous readmission rates and patients’ average length of stay, researchers found that optimizing nutrition care in the four hospitals resulted in roughly $3,800 cost savings per patient treated for malnutrition.They implemented two models of a nutrition care program for patients at-risk of malnutrition back in 2014. The data indicated that 30-day readmission rates were decreased by 27% and the average hospital stay by nearly two days.
“The study’s findings demonstrate that modest changes in the way we care for patients, such as ensuring patients are nourished during their hospital stay, can have a big impact in reducing costs and improving health outcomes,” said Lee Sacks, MD, executive VP and chief medical officer of Advocate Health Care.