Nutrition is the Missing Ingredient in Home Healthcare Today, New Study Shows

Researchers from Advocate Health Care and Abbott Find Nutrition Reduces Hospitalizations

(ABBOTT PARK, Illinois) – For nearly 5 million Americans a year, home healthcare is critical as they recover from illness or injury. New research highlights the important role nutrition plays in helping these patients stay healthy and out of the hospital. The new study finds that when home healthcare patients are screened for malnutrition, educated, and provided with a nutrition care plan that includes nutritional drinks, the risk of being hospitalized was reduced by 24% in the first 30 days and 18% after 90 days.

    “By identifying patients at risk for malnutrition and feeding them the right foods and nutritional drinks, home healthcare providers can help them recover faster, stay healthy and stay out of the hospital,” said Suela Sulo, PhD, a health outcomes researcher at Abbott.

    Abbott partnered with Advocate Health Care to study the impact of a nutrition care program on keeping patients out of the hospital. The program followed more than 1,500 patients for 90 days and found that admissions and readmissions were reduced. 

    Part of the program is also educational so that patients can continue to live healthier lives after they’re no longer receiving visits from home healthcare clinicians. “It’s important for the patient to continue the practices that we began in home health so that they can maintain their strength,” said Katie Riley, RN, vice president and post acute chief nursing officer for Advocate Aurora Health and lead author of the study. “It helps to decrease their falls, increase their activity, fight off illness and promote their overall general health.”

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A new study shows that implementing a nutrition care plan for patients in home healthcare that included nutritional drinks reduced 90-day hospitalizations by 18 percent.

Monika McComb (right) discusses her diet with her home health nurse, Cheryl (left). A new study found that implementing a nutrition care plan, including nutritional drinks, reduced hospital admissions and readmissions among patients enrolled in home healthcare.

Gretchen VanDerBosch, RD grabs a nutritional shake from a stockroom. As a clinical dietitian at Advocate Health Care, she screens hospital patients for malnutrition and says implementing a structured nutrition care plan in different healthcare settings helps patients recover faster and stay out of the hospital.

Suela Sulo, PhD, a health outcomes researcher at Abbott, partnered with Advocate Health Care to study the effects of nutrition on patients enrolled in home healthcare. The study found that 90-day hospitalizations were reduced by 18 percent when patients were given a structured nutrition care plan that included education and nutritional drinks.

Katie Riley, RN, vice president and post acute chief nursing officer at Advocate Aurora Health, helped develop a nutritional protocol for patients enrolled in home healthcare. Advocate partnered with Abbott in designing the nutrition care plan that included education and nutritional drinks, which resulted in reduced hospitalization rates and healthcare costs.

Gretchen VanDerBosch, RD (right) talks to a patient about the importance of good nutrition. A new study found that implementing a structured care plan to prevent malnutrition in patients enrolled in home healthcare reduced 90-day hospitalization rates by 18 percent.