SummaryIn the final episode of our podcast series for Malnutrition Awareness Week™, Avalere's Kristi Mitchell is joined by Bob Blancato to talk about the growing crisis of malnutrition care and its impact on older adults. Bob is the president of Matz, Blancato, and Associates, the national coordinator of the bipartisan 3000-member Elder Justice Coalition, and the executive director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs.
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Kristi: Welcome to today’s discussion on improving malnutrition care. As some of you may know, malnutrition among hospitalized patients often leads to longer hospital stays, increased medical complications, higher morbidity and mortality, and increased readmissions—particularly for older adults. Unfortunately, malnutrition is often not diagnosed or effectively treated and thus represents a gap in quality healthcare. I am Kristi Mitchell, a senior vice president at Avalere Health and a contributor to the Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative—a national initiative to advance care for malnutrition among hospitalized elderly. Joining me today to talk about the growing crisis of malnutrition care and its impact on older adults is Bob Blancato.
Bob is the president of Matz, Blancato, and Associates, the national coordinator of the bipartisan 3000-member Elder Justice Coalition, and the executive director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs. Bob is also the national coordinator for Defeat Malnutrition Today Coalition.
Thank you, Bob, for joining Avalere for this podcast today, for embarking on this journey to defeat malnutrition. With that, we are excited to address this critically important topic, so let’s get started.
Bob, given the well-documented facts that 1 in 3 hospitalized patients are malnourished, between 4 and 19 million malnutrition cases are left undiagnosed yearly, and the staggering fact that malnutrition increases hospital cost up to 300%, what do you think are the most important next steps to address and improve malnutrition in our nation?
Bob: Approaching Malnutrition Awareness Week, it’s important to raise the general public’s awareness of malnutrition, both through community providers like senior centers and home-delivered meals providers, and through healthcare settings like hospitals. In turn, it’s also important to raise those providers’ awareness of malnutrition as a serious health issue so that proper screening, diagnosis and care plans can be provided to malnourished individuals and so that actions can be taken to prevent malnutrition in those who are at risk. We also need to raise this issue in the halls of Congress and to a new President. It’s not as well known as hunger as an issue, but it’s part of the same family of issues, so to speak, and they’re not mutually exclusive.
Kristi: Bob, can you tell us why you are in support of the MQii project and the development and adoption of relevant quality measures in this space? Also tell us about DMT plans for 2017 and how the call for our nation is to take action now!
Bob: Proper screening, diagnosis, and care plans for those who are malnourished are essential to stopping this epidemic. The MQii project’s quality measures would standardize this care for all. Others can get involved with this by advocating for the adoption of these measures to CMS. As far as DMT plans for 2017, we are working on a Malnutrition Quality Collaborative, which would produce a blueprint for malnutrition actions moving forward. We are also planning advocacy strategy for working with a new Administration and Congress next year. We continue to grow as a coalition-we have almost 50 members now after just a year in existence and we plan to continue growing our membership next year.
Kristi: Bob, moving out of the hospital and acute care setting, many of the determinants of malnutrition can be addressed through action in the community settings. To these stakeholders, what would you say is the key message for reducing the pervasiveness of malnutrition?
Bob: I would say that the key message, especially for community partners, is to continue a lot of what you’re already doing but try to work on some elements of care coordination with local healthcare providers. The provision of meals by Older Americans Act programs and other community safety net programs is one of our best ways to defeat malnutrition in the community. Also, many programs already incorporate malnutrition awareness into their activities. For example, many Older Americans Act programs already screen participants for malnutrition. The challenge is then to use those results and coordinate them with healthcare providers. More care coordination would be important here.
Kristi: Bob, I want to talk a bit about the second initiative in which DMT is involved: the Malnutrition Quality Collaborative. What is it? What does it hope to accomplish in the short term?
Bob: The Collaborative is a group of stakeholders from many different sectors, including, as you said, post-acute care, health IT, and community-based organizations, who are working together to produce a Malnutrition Blueprint. The Blueprint will basically act as a visionary road map to discuss actions that all sectors can and need to take to move forward to prevent and combat senior malnutrition. These stakeholders are all collaborating on this Blueprint and bringing their expertise from their various domains to the table to form a unified vision. It’s very exciting and it’s something that hasn’t been done before in this space.
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