During a recent MVC HF Workgroup, hospitals shared patient education practices regarding HF diets with one another. The feasibility of implementing different programs, barriers in communication, and patient engagement along with potential solutions were discussed. The hospital representatives also shared different programs that their facilities engage in to work with patients on maintaining a healthy HF diet. While hospitals incorporate nutritionists or dieticians and educational materials in diet planning, some take unique approaches to helping patients adhere to their diets. For example, one hospital in the workgroup offers HF patients prepared, in-house meals at a subsidized cost. This helps address barriers such as accessibility to healthy food and any inability to prepare and cook meals due to disability. Addressing these barriers allows for enhanced chronic disease management.
Taking it one step further: What would happen if healthy, HF friendly meals were delivered right to patient homes?
In a recent study, Michigan Medicine observed the impact of nutrition support services, specifically home meal delivery post-discharge, on outcomes such as hospital readmissions and quality of life. In this small pilot trial, 66 HF patients were selected at random to either receive usual care consisting of a pamphlet on low-sodium diets or a meal delivery post discharge.1 The food was delivered to patients through PurFoods/ Mom’s Meals, a service that was also mentioned during the HF Workgroup discussion.1 The results of the pilot were promising: there was a total of 11 HF-related 30-day readmissions among the control group, versus only 3 HF-related readmissions in the experimental group receiving the delivered meals. 2 Although the pilot group was small, it is evident that providing post-discharge support to patients can prove to be significant to patient outcomes and avoidable readmission costs.
Furthermore, providing hospital-to-hospital support has also proven to be helpful through the workgroup discussions as well. During our dialogue, which included representatives from respective nutrition teams, a few hospitals were willing and open to sharing some of their patient education materials, including HF diet tip sheets. This allowed participants to share experiences, and best practices while learning about different initiatives that could have a positive impact on patient outcomes. A synopsis of the HF workgroup discussion on patient education and diet, including resources and a literature review, can be found in the MVC Registry under Resources.