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The financial case for home-delivered meals

Home-delivered meals are popular for older Americans and patients recuperating from hospital stays saving money and helping improve outcomes.

March 26, 2019

The financial case for home-delivered meals

Home-delivered meals are popular with senior citizens and patients recuperating from hospital stays as having a meal brought into the home is convenient and saves time. (Not to mention that the good home-delivered meals are tasty.) But, are home-delivered meals worth the expense?

Research proves the value of home-delivered meals

Home-delivered meals help reduce some costs and cut other expenses completely while also helping people heal at home — and live at home longer. Here are some of the benchmarks that can be used to measure the return-on-investment of home-delivered meals.

Reducing hospital readmissions

Recently discharged patients are particularly vulnerable to hospital readmission. Without proper support including access to good nutrition, they can easily end up back in the hospital with complications to their previous condition or new medical problems. A study by JAMA Internal Medicine shows that up to 27% of hospital readmissions are preventable with the right planning and treatment.

One important way to support discharged patients — and reduce the chance of readmission — is to ensure they have consistent access to good nutrition that can help them heal.

  • According to one study in the Journal of Primary Care and Community Health, better nutrition reduced hospital admissions by 7% for people with diabetes and by 50% for people with multiple conditions
  • Based on research by he Medicare Quality Improvement Organization of Florida (FMQAI), once the patient is discharged from the hospital, access to good nutrition can cut readmission rates as well

Avoiding unnecessary skilled nursing facility stays

Skilled nursing facilities and rehabilitation clinics are costly, but they’re necessary for many people recovering from injuries or serious medical conditions. However, if the patient has the right type of support at home, staying in a skilled nursing facility may be unnecessary.

Evaluating whether a patient can heal at home often starts with assessing the individual’s ability to manage Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), including dressing, bathing and preparing meals. Arranging for home-delivered meals takes two major burdens off a patient recovering at home: getting to the grocery store and preparing meals. If physical therapy (PT) can also be provided in home, that combination of nutrition and PT may make the difference between more costly recovery in a skilled nursing facility and a less expensive, equally effective, and more comfortable recovery at home.

Controlling chronic conditions

Many chronic conditions, particularly diabetes and hypertension, can be managed through improved nutrition. For example, a study published in Health Affairs showed that providing access to nutritious meals through home delivery, resulted in up to 27% fewer cases of uncontrolled diabetes. When chronic conditions are controlled, that can reduce a patient’s overall health bill.

Supporting independence

More senior citizens want to “age in place,” but it’s not always possible if an individual doesn’t have the right support. If access to nutrition is a roadblock to independent living, home-delivered meals can be the one factor that makes it possible for a senior citizen to continue living in their home and avoid moving to a costly facility.

Learn more about how health care organizations and families around the nation depend on Mom’s Meals to deliver refrigerated, condition-specific meals to homes around the country.