The program is a collaboration between Advocate Health Care, Russell Institute for Research & Innovation at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, the Center for Applied Value Analysis (CAVA), and Abbott. The study will enroll 3,000 adult patients admitted to four Advocate hospitals, making this one of the largest U.S. studies to gather information on the effectiveness of nutrition interventions in real-world settings.
The prospective study will follow patients in real time from admission through 30 days after discharge to determine the impact rapid nutritional intervention has on decreasing 30-day readmission rates. According to the study's design, all patients will receive nutritional screenings upon being admitted. At two of the hospitals, malnourished and those at-risk patients will quickly receive nutritional treatment (an oral nutrition supplement) 24 to 48 hours sooner than standard practice. The patients enrolled at these two hospitals will also receive additional education, a discharge nutrition care plan and post-discharge reminder calls.
The readmission rates at these two "pilot" hospitals will then be compared with the readmission rates among malnourished patients who received the current standard of care at the other two hospitals.
"Our goal for this study goes far beyond demonstrating what Advocate Health Care can do to improve the quality of care for our patients," said Tom Summerfelt, Ph.D., vice president, research and innovation, Advocate Health Care. "As the largest accountable care organization in the country and one of the largest health systems in the Midwest, we have the broad patient population to provide real-world evidence of the value of nutrition interventions in improving patient outcomes, lowering costs and reducing readmission rates. No matter what the size of the hospital, these findings should have relevance because they demonstrate what is possible and can be implemented quickly."
The impetus for this large-scale study is the need to accelerate the adoption of effective nutrition practices in hospitals. Today, it is estimated that up to 50% of patients are either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition when they enter the hospital and many will experience a nutritional decline during their stay.
Although numerous studies link the effective treatment of malnutrition in hospitals with 14% fewer overall medical complications and a 28% drop in avoidable hospital readmissions, hospitals are only now starting to recognize the impact in reducing health care costs and avoidable hospital readmissions.
"A large-scale study of this kind will help show the real health outcomes that nutrition can have for patients in the hospital," said Robert H. Miller, Ph.D., divisional vice president, R&D, Scientific and Medical Affairs, at Abbott Nutrition.
"As a healthcare company and leader in science-based nutrition, Abbott is committed to working in partnership with key researchers and institutions to demonstrate the impact nutrition can have in improving the quality of care and reducing health costs in today's demanding hospital environment."
The study will start enrolling patients this month and findings will be released in 2015.