October 9, 2014
Nutrition and Healing
As the evidence mounts in support of nutrition being a key facet of health care, one progressive hospital has actually begun funding its own nutrition services for discharged patients. Carney Hospital in Boston, in response to penalties for high readmission, hired City Fresh Foods to deliver free meals to patients at particular nutritional risk. The hospital knew that doctors were advising patients on what kinds of diets they needed to eat in order to recover from their illnesses, but high readmission rates proved that this advice was simply not being heeded in the home. Lifestyle changes are difficult, especially those pertaining to diet, and this new program assists patients to succeed by providing them with some of the food that they need.
This is not a new concept; at MANNA, we deliver medically-tailored meals to patients to prevent hospital readmissions and help with the healing process. In Boston, Community Servings does similar work, and in cities around the country other organizations exist with likeminded missions. However, what is happening at Carney Hospital is new, because of who is footing the bill. At MANNA, Community Servings, and other similar organizations, the funding comes from a variety of sources including fundraising efforts, private donors, and grants. However, in this case Carney Hospital is paying for the meal service. This makes it far more sustainable and expandable, because the funding source also gains the cost savings, while at MANNA the financial beneficiaries are external entities like hospitals and insurance companies. MANNA doesn’t save money for itself by helping clients, but Carney Hospital will. Therefore, the financial capacity limitations that MANNA and other similar organizations operate under disappear when hospitals and insurance companies start supporting the savings that nutrition earns.
MANNA’s research proves that home delivered medically-tailored meals save money for insurance companies, patients, and hospitals. This is one of the first cases of a hospital using this evidence to start an initiative that will save it money and reduce readmission rates. We are excited to see all of the good that will come from Carney’s program, and hope that other hospitals will follow suit. MANNA, Community Servings, and other organizations around the country already exist and are skilled at designing and providing medically-tailored diets. Through partnerships with the organizations that receive the cost savings when patients receive these services, these organizations will be able to serve many more people, and have a much larger impact on their communities.
This post is by Kelly McGlynn, rising senior at Brown University and former Advocacy & Health Policy Intern at MANNA.