The Role Proper Nutrition Plays in a Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program

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We have been told ad nauseam how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, specifically with regard to the food we eat. While “healthy” advice is often ignored, eating a balanced meal is a very easy way to reduce hospital readmissions and even prevent hospital readmissions.

In the United States, one (1) in every five (5) Medicare patients is readmitted to the hospital within the first thirty (30) days of their release. Twelve percent (12%) of these readmissions rates could have been prevented1. The cost of hospital readmissions is around Fourteen Thousand Dollars and 00/100 ($14,000.00), a hefty price for a preventable circumstance2. Many patients are readmitted to the hospital because their condition did not allow them to cater to their own needs. Weight loss alone accounts for a twenty-six percent (26%) increase in hospital readmissions rates3. A lack of resources to provide and prepare meals necessary for recovery can prove detrimental to one’s growth and could result in a preventable hospital readmission.

Providing medically tailored meals upon a patient’s release, as part of a hospital readmissions reduction program, could help combat this issue and prevent hospital readmissions for those on Medicare and Medicaid. Studies have shown that those who receive prescribed meals pay about thirty percent (30%) less in medical expenses than those who do not4. Additionally, research presented at the 2014 Society of Hospital Medicine’s annual meeting proves that nutritional care reduces the rate of thirty-day hospital readmission by eight percent (8%) to twelve percent (12%), depending on the diagnosis.

In a world where we focus on nutrition and other preventative measures, we can all benefit from keeping people healthy. Aftercare can not only improve quality of life, but it can drastically reduce hospital readmission rates and the cost of healthcare in this country.

1McIlvennan, Colleen K et al. “Hospital readmissions reduction program.” Circulation vol. 131,20 (2015): 1796-803. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.010270
2Molly K. Bailey, M.S., Audrey J. Weiss, Ph.D., Marguerite L. Barrett, M.S., and H. Joanna Jiang, Ph.D. “Characteristics of 30-Day All-Cause Hospital Readmissions.” 2010-2016 #248,
3McHugh, Matthew D, and Chenjuan Ma. “Hospital nursing and 30-day readmissions among Medicare patients with heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, and pneumonia.” Medical care vol. 51,1 (2013): 52-9. doi:10.1097/MLR.0b013e3182763284
4Journal of Primary Care & Community Health: Examining Health Care Costs Among MANNA Clients and a Comparison Group

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