The study suggests that states can reduce health care costs by providing tailored meals to patients

The study suggests that states can reduce health care costs by providing tailored meals to patients

Estimated net impacts of implementing medically tailored meal programs in each state, per patient treated per year. Blue bars show average annual cost savings in 2021 dollars. Gray bars indicate the number of hospitalizations avoided. Credit: Shuyue Deng, Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

According to a new study in every US state, programs that provide medically adapted meals (MTM) to people with diet-sensitive conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, along with limitations in the ability to perform daily activities, can lead to significant savings in health care. expenses.

Using computer models to estimate the benefits of such programs minus the costs of implementing them, the researchers found considerable variation among US states, but an overall net cost savings in almost every state.

“By conducting a comprehensive analysis that takes into account the diversity in state health care systems and patient demographics, the study highlights the potential financial benefits of MTMs,” said Shuyue Deng, a doctoral student in the Gerald J. School of Nutrition. and Dorothy R. Friedman. Science and Policy at Tufts University and lead author.

“Preliminary results show that MTMs can significantly reduce health care costs and hospitalizations in nearly every state.”

Deng is presenting the findings at NUTRITION 2024, the main annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition held June 29-July 2 in Chicago.

A person’s diet affects the severity and trajectory of many chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, chronic kidney disease, and HIV, but it can be challenging for patients to obtain and prepare the foods they need to manage more well their condition. MTM programs deliver ready meals directly to patients’ homes.

Meals are selected and prepared according to personalized nutrition plans designed by nutritionists based on each person’s health conditions and nutritional needs. Such programs have been proposed and pilot tested in various areas, but are not currently widely implemented in the United States.

By helping patients consume a diet that is optimized for them, MTMs can help prevent the worsening of chronic conditions and reduce the need for costly hospital visits and treatments. In addition, meal deliveries can improve patients’ independence and quality of life, and they can be particularly helpful for people who face challenges with everyday tasks such as shopping and cooking.

Costs associated with MTM include the cost of producing and distributing meals, the cost of employing dietitians, and the administrative cost of managing the programs.

The study suggests that states can reduce health care costs by providing tailored meals to patients

Estimated net impacts of implementing medically tailored meal programs in each state, per patient treated per year, as represented by annual cost savings and hospitalizations avoided. Coloring indicates US region. Credit: Shuyue Deng, Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

To estimate the overall financial impacts of MTMs in each state, researchers analyzed data from nearly 7 million American adults with diet-sensitive chronic diseases and used a computer simulation to model how implementing MTMs for these patients is expected to change the annual costs of the health program. , hospitalizations, and health care expenditures in each US state, compared to the baseline scenario of current care without MTM.

The researchers estimated the impact based on previously reported MTM programs that provided about 10 meals per week for an average of eight months per year.

Accounting for implementation costs, projections indicated that MTMs would generate net cost savings in all states except Alabama. Per patient treated, the largest projected annual net savings were in Connecticut ($6,219), followed by Pennsylvania ($4,370), Massachusetts ($4,251), and Arizona ($3,889). Oregon ($651) and Alabama ($-214) were projected to see the lowest net annual cost savings per patient treated.

Variations in basic health care costs and the number of people eligible for MTM account for some of the variation in projections from state to state.

The researchers also estimated the number of eligible patients in each state. For example, they estimated that California has the largest population of patients who would be eligible for MTM treatment (over 1,220,000 patients) and Alaska has the smallest (about 17,800), based on eligibility for people with chronic diet-sensitive conditions. who also have limited ability to perform daily activities.

“These differences between states provide insights for state-level policymakers and health plan administrators,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, Ph.D., a cardiologist, public health scientist and Director of the Food is Medicine Institute at the Friedman School.

“Our new findings highlight the potential benefits of incorporating MTMs into state-level health care strategies, such as Medicaid 1115 ‘in lieu of services’ waivers, Medicare shared savings programs, and Organizations of Accountable Care, as well as commercial insurance plans.”

To further refine the predictions and inform decision-making, the researchers plan to examine additional factors that may contribute to variation in program costs, such as different food costs, in different states.

More information:
Deng presents this research at 12:451:45 pm CDT on Monday, July 1, during the Policy and Regulations poster session at McCormick Place ( abstract ; presentation details ).

Provided by the American Association for Nutrition

citation: Study suggests states can cut health care costs by providing tailored meals for patients (2024, July 1) retrieved on July 2, 2024 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2024-07-states-health-patient -tailored-meals.html

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