Researchers have found that implementing a nutrition care plan at home for patients at risk for malnutrition had a dramatic impact on helping keep them out of the hospital.
"Our goal as a home healthcare provider is to help patients get back on their feet as quickly as possible and to keep them out of the hospital," said study lead author Katie Riley from Advocate Aurora Health in the US.
Paying attention to nutrition care helps promote patients' strength and prevents them from going back to the hospital, which ultimately reduces healthcare costs, she said.
For the study, published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, more than 1,500 home health patients were followed for 90 days.
The research found that when patients at risk for malnutrition received a comprehensive nutrition care program to aid in their recovery, risk of being hospitalized was significantly reduced by 24 percent in the first 30 days, nearly 23 percent after 60 days and 18 percent after 90 days.
It was also found that healthcare costs were reduced by more than $2.3 million or about $1,500 per patient at risk for malnutrition.
"Healthcare systems are driven to improve patient care while reducing costs. Our research shows that prioritizing nutrition across different settings of care - from hospital to home - can significantly cut costs while improving patients' health," said study co-author Suela Sulo.