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Reduced Readmissions—In a Bottle?

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, November 1, 2013

Healthcare organizations can lower readmissions and improve patient care significantly through a simple move that doesn't involve fancy data systems or expensive care coordinators, according to new research. If your organization doesn't use an oral nutritional supplement protocol, why not?

New research suggests healthcare organizations can lower readmissions and improve patient care significantly, and it doesn't involve fancy data systems or expensive care coordinators. In fact, it may come in a bottle or can.

That's because a recent study by researchers at the University of Southern California, Stanford University, The Harris School at The University of Chicago, and Precision Health Economics finds that hospitals and health systems could conceivably reduce readmissions for Medicare patients by 8.4% and significantly reduce length of stay simply by incorporating oral nutritional supplements into care protocols for hospital stays.

One reason doing so works so well, says Julia Thornton Snider, PhD, a research economist with Precision Health Economics, is that other studies suggest that as many as 50% of patients are clinically malnourished after discharge.

"We have defined malnutrition through advanced nutrition statistics," she says. "It's the frail person you think of, but it also includes those who could also technically be obese."

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