Op-Ed: Is Nutrition the First Step in Addressing Hospital Readmission?

Hospital readmissions among Medicare patients 65 years of age and older is an important issue impacting patients, families and hospitals. Hunger and the lack of proper nutrition among older adults contribute to increased hospital readmission rates, and poorer outcomes for patients ultimately placing undue burden on the health system. In order to create an incentive for hospitals to reduce these readmission rates, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) began penalizing hospitals whose readmission rates were too high as of October 2012. Recent research suggests that nutrition supplementation can impact health outcomes in this population, such as 30-day hospital readmission rates and length of hospital stays. Additional work is needed with collaboration by multiple stakeholders including hospitals, health care leaders, academics, industry and policymakers to tap the true potential of nutrition in hospitals.