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Could improvements to patient nutrition be the solution to reducing hospital debt?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Malnutrition has long been a concern for the National Health Service and is more common than many people think - affecting more than three million people in the UK at any one time.

These figures become even more astonishing when you consider that 1 in 3 patients admitted to hospital, or who are in care homes, are malnourished or at risk of becoming so. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) defines malnutrition as: “a state in which a deficiency of nutrients such as energy, protein, vitamins and minerals causes measurable adverse effects on body composition, function (including social and psychological) and clinical outcome.”

But what does that mean for our health care services?

Kafoodle Kare, food management software for the care sector

Poor nutrition not only harms a patient's’ health and wellbeing but can also have a substantial impact on the health economy by prolonging recovery periods and leading to increased admissions and readmissions.On average the stay of a malnourished patient in hospital is three days longer than their well-nourished neighbour. Their mortality rates are higher and failed discharges more frequent. With the NHS net deficit for 2015/2016 recorded as £1.851 billion and the UK population projected to rise to 69 million by 2024, combatting malnutrition could be one of the answers to lowering patient re-admissions and speeding up patient recovery, in turn reducing costs across the healthcare sector.

The positive effects of tackling malnutrition are already emerging from across the pond with health care providers such as Downers Grove-based Advocate Health Care who have successfully implemented a nutritional care program, reducing their readmission rates, shortening inpatient stay and saving nearly $4.9 million dollars.

Kafoodle Kare nutrition software for the care sector

Advocate Health Care implemented the nutritional care program to address the increasing burden of patient malnutrition which proved to be successful, with a study published in 2016 finding the program to have helped Advocate reduce readmissions by 27% and shorten hospital stays by almost 2 days. Researchers found that optimising the nutritional care of patients across Advocate’s four hospitals resulted in total savings of nearly $3,800 per patient treated for malnutrition. Leading to nearly $4.9 million in collective savings from implementing the programme. Lee Sacks, MD, executive vice president and CMO of Advocate Health Care said “Value-based care means looking comprehensively at patient care to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement… The study’s findings demonstrate that modest changes in the way we care for patients, such as ensuring patients are nourished during their hospital stay, can have a big impact in reducing costs and improving health outcomes.”You can find out more about what Kafoodle can do for you here or by contacting us directly at: or on 02033710450



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