Quality in Primary Care Open Access

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Nutritional Support For Outpatients At Risk Of Malnutrition Improves Health Outcomes And Reduces Healthcare Costs

Suela Sulo, Katie Riley,Yangyang Liu, Wendy Landow, David Lanctin & Gretchen VanDerBosch

Purpose: Approximately 1 in 3 older adults living in the community experience malnutrition or its risk. Only a few studies have examined the impact of nutrition interventions on this population. We hypothesized that proper nutrition care for outpatients can help alleviate healthcare needs and lessen the overall burden to healthcare systems.

Methods: This study was a multisite, pre-post quality improvement program (QIP) implemented at 2 branches of an Illinois-based home health agency. The QIP included 203 patients who were referred to receive home health care services by a physician during an outpatient visit. A historic control group of 722 patients were used for comparison.

Results: Hospitalization relative risk reduction rate was 38.9%, 48.7%, and 44.7% at 30, 60, and 90 days, respectively, when compared with the historic control group. Total cost savings from reduced 90-day healthcare resource utilization including hospitalization, emergency department and outpatient visits was $472,433, or $2,327 per patient treated.

Conclusions: Hospitalization rate and overall healthcare resource utilization were significantly reduced through the implementation of a nutrition-focused QIP targeting the nutrition needs of outpatient adults at risk of malnutrition. These improvements resulted in significant cost savings, thus highlighting the importance of nutrition care for improving the health of outpatients and for reducing healthcare costs.