Malnutrition is largely under-recognized and under-treated,1 despite the fact that one in four adult patients in the hospital is malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.2,3,4,5 This condition can occur in people of all ages, with the elderly at the greatest risk,6 and can impact physical health, daily function, independence and recovery from illness, injury and surgery.7,8

The impact of malnutrition goes beyond patients and their families. With rising healthcare costs, governments, hospitals and payers are looking for ways to effectively address health issues while reducing costs. Abbott, a leader in nutrition products, is dedicated to combating malnutrition by providing high-quality therapeutic nutrition products that can help improve patient care in a cost-effective manner.

A key indication of cost effectiveness is health economics and outcomes research (HEOR), which demonstrates how nutrition products can make an impact on reducing health costs and ultimately, help patients live healthier lives.

Abbott has partnered with leading health economists to conduct numerous studies that evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of nutritional therapies. The three recent retrospective studies utilized information found in the Premier Research Database from 2000 to 2010.

Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS) Role in Adult Hospital Patients

One of Abbott’s HEOR studies, Effect of Oral Nutritional Supplementation on Hospital Outcomes, was presented at the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) annual congress in Germany. The research, published in the February issue of the American Journal of Managed Care, showed that patients who were provided oral nutritional supplements in the hospital were associated with:

  • 21.0 percent or 2.3-day reduction in length of stay
  • 21.6 percent, or $4,734 reduction in hospital costs
  • 6.7 percent reduction in a patient’s probability of being readmitted to the hospital within 30 days

Pediatric ONS Research

Children who are given oral nutritional supplements during hospital stays tend to be discharged faster and incur fewer expenses, according to the new retrospective study, Impact of Oral Nutrition Supplements on Hospital Outcomes in Pediatric Patients. The study, supported by Abbott, leveraged data from the Premier Research Database which included more than half a million hospitalized pediatric patients two to eight years of age, and found that the use of oral nutritional supplements provided to pediatric patients during hospitalization was associated with a:

  • 14.8 percent or 1.1 days decrease in length of stay
  • $1,768 decrease in hospital stay costs per patient

The study was presented at the 2013 North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Medicare Patients (Aged 65+) Readmission Research

One of Abbott’s latest studies, Oral Nutrition Supplements’ Impact on Hospital Outcomes in the Context of Affordable Care Act and New Medicare Reimbursement Policies, may have a significant impact on hospitals that are facing penalties based on readmission rates.

The study, which was presented at the 35th annual meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM) in Baltimore, found that introducing nutritional supplements to the diets of Medicare recipients caused a dramatic drop in hospital readmission rates for three of the most common ailments associated with readmission for Medicare patients aged 65 and over: myocardial infarction (i.e. heart attacks), congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Specifically, the research demonstrated that oral nutritional supplements were associated with a decreased probability of 30-day readmission among Medicare patients aged 65 and over who could be tracked for readmission:

  • 8.4 percent reduction for all Medicare patients aged 65+
  • 10.1 percent reduction for congestive heart failure patients aged 65+
  • 12.0 percent reduction for acute myocardial infarction patients aged 65+

Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition

Abbott also was a founder of the Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition, a new interdisciplinary organization, in the United States that represents more than 100,000 dietitians, nurses, hospitalists, physicians and clinicians. The organization drives awareness for the issue of hospital malnutrition and provides resources to clinicians so they can implement better nutrition intervention treatment protocols.

There are a number of additional HEOR studies in Abbott’s pipeline and moving forward, many of its clinical research studies will include an economic analysis to help demonstrate the total value of nutritional therapies.

To go more in-depth, see the studies below:

1 White JV et al. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012; 112:730-8.
2 Ella M, Smith RM (Eds) Improving Nutritional Care Perspetives and Recommendations from Population Groups, Patients and Carers. 2009.
3 Imoberdorf R et al. Clin Nutr. 2010;29:38-41.
4 Schindler K et al. Clin Nutr. 2010;29:552-9.
5 Meijers JMM et al. Br J Nutr. 2009;101:417-23.
6 BAPEN 2012. British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) Nutrition Screening Week (NSW) 2011 data.
7 Norman K et al. Clin Nutr. 2008;27:5-15.
8 Elia M, Russell C. Combating Malnutrition: Recommendations for action. Report from the Advisory Group on Malnutrition, Led by BAPEN. 2009. Redditch, BAPEN.