Budget Impact Analysis of a Home-Based Nutrition Program for Adults at Risk for Malnutrition


Director, Operations, Advocate Health Care


Background: Hospital-based, nutrition-focused interventions have significantly lowered the cost-associated burden of poor nutrition through a reduction in healthcare resource utilization (HCRU). However, for patients at risk for poor nutrition who receive nutritional care at home, limited evidence exists on the economic impact of nutrition-focused interventions.

Objective: To estimate the 30-day cost-savings associated with an at-home nutrition-focused quality improvement program in the postacute care setting for patients at risk for poor nutrition from the perspective of a hospital system.

Methods: We compared the HCRU of 1546 patients enrolled in a quality improvement program during 1 year versus 7413 patients in a pre-program historical cohort who received care during the 1 year before the quality improvement program implementation. The analysis included the number of 30-day hospitalizations, emergency department and outpatient visits for both cohorts, and the associated costs. The main analysis included the fixed and variable costs for the program, and the costs of oral nutritional supplement and delivery. The costs for hospitalization, emergency department, and outpatient visit costs were based on the 2013 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project and Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

Results: Based on the 2013 survey, the baseline costs for hospitalization, emergency department, and outpatient visit costs were $18,296, $1312, and $535, respectively. Our health economic analysis about the 30-day overall HCRU has shown that the quality improvement program group resulted in a total cost-savings of $2,408,668 for the 1546 patients in the program and a net savings of $1558 per patient compared with the costs for the pre-quality improvement program historical cohort.

Conclusion: The use of a nutrition-focused quality improvement program led to significant 30-day cost-savings, by reducing HCRU for adults who received nutritional-based care at home. The improvements in HCRU highlight the importance of implementing nutrition-focused quality improvement programs for hospital systems that provide care for patients who are at risk for poor nutrition across a variety of care settings.

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