Possible Economic Benefits of Nutritional Supplementation
It may seem obvious, but research shows that if you are well nourished you are likely to spend less time in the hospital after admission. Keep in mind that the following study is not an endorsement of any particular supplement, and it is always advisable to discuss supplementation with your health professional when being treated for an illness or taking medications.
A growing body of evidence suggests that malnutrition is a serious and often unrecognized problem among hospitalized patients. Malnourished patients are more likely to experience an increased length of stay, higher health care costs, more complications, and a greater chance of readmission and mortality.
In a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, researchers used data gathered between 2000 and 2010 to examine the effect of oral nutritional supplements on hospital economic outcomes by comparing hospital stays where nutritional supplements were provided with similar hospital stays that did not provide supplements. A total of 1,160,088 total episodes were analyzed (580,044 given oral supplements matched with 580,044 not given supplements). The length of hospital stay and cost of treatment (including supplies, labor, depreciation of equipment, etc.) were measured in addition to the probability of hospital readmission within 30 days.
The researchers found that patients that were provided with nutritional supplements had a 21% (2.3 days) reduction in the length of hospital stay which also resulted in a cost savings of $4,734. Supplementation also reduced the probability of patient readmission by 6.7%.
Consistent with results from previous randomized controlled trials, this study indicates that the use of oral nutritional supplements may lead to a significant decrease in the length of hospitalization, cost, and chances of readmission. And, given the prevalence of malnutrition among this population, nutritional supplementation would be a cost effective method of improving health outcomes while also reducing health care spending.