Study: Oral nutrition supplements reduce readmission rates, stay time, costs

Oral nutritional intervention can reduce 30-day readmissions among older patients, according to a new Abbott-supported study.

The oral nutrition supplements--dietary food that provides calories and nutrients, often in liquid form--were associated with a decreased probability of 30-day readmission among Medicare patients aged 65 and over, according to the study announcement.  

Researchers analyzed 11 years of hospital data and determined differences in length of stay, episode cost and 30-day readmission rates for Medicare patients aged 65 and older by comparing cases where oral nutritional supplements were prescribed to patients with the same conditions to those who weren't prescribed oral nutritional supplements. 

They found readmissions decreased among patients who took oral nutrition supplements as follows:

  • an 8.4 percent reduction for patients with any diagnosis
  • a 10.1 percent reduction for congestive heart failure patients, and
  • a 12 percent reduction for patients with acute myocardial infarction

The study also looked at oral nutrition supplements and length of stay and cost reduction. Researchers found:

  • a 16 percent, or 1.65 days, reduction in length of stay, and
  • a 15.8 percent, or $3,079, in cost savings per episode

"Hospitals are going to be looking for ways to improve quality of care for Medicare patients in order to lower readmission rates and prevent fines," study co-authorTomas Philipson, Ph.D., the Daniel Levin chair of public policy at the University of Chicago, said in the announcement. "This analysis suggests that use of oral nutritional supplements is a simple and cost-effective solution that hospitals can implement immediately."

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has begun levying penalties for readmissions. In the first round of penalties, nearly 300 hospitals were penalized 1 percent of their base Medicare payments, the maximum fine, and two-thirds of U.S. hospitals will see payment reductions in the coming year, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the Abbott study