Adding a Dietician to the Liaison-Team after Discharge of Geriatric Patients at Nutritional Risk May Save Health Care Costs

Anne Pohju, Kerstin Belqaid, Christopher Brandt, Kerstin Lugnet, Anni Linnet Nielsen, Henrik Højgaard Rasmussen, Nanna ML Rasmussen and Anne Marie Beck

Background: A previous study investigated the value of adding a dietitian to a geriatric discharge Liaison-Team. The scope of this study was to explore the possible economic savings of this.

Methods: Patients, 70+ and at nutritional risk, were randomized to receive discharge Liaison-Team either with (intervention group, IG) or without a dietitian (control group, CG). The IG received three home visits by the dietitian during a 12-week period. Data included in the economic analysis was time spent by the dietitian, use of oral nutritional supplements (ONS) and number of hospitalization days.

Results: Of the 71 included patients, 34 were in the IG, 30 patients received all three dietitian visits. Cumulated number of hospitalization days was 172 in the IG and 415 in the CG. Use of ONS was 48% in the IG and 17% in the CG (P=0.001). Estimated cost for the dietitian and ONS combined in the IG was €9,416 compared to €1,150 (ONS only) in the CG. For hospitalizations, estimated cost was €92,020 in the IG and €220,025 in the CG. Cost savings added up to €3,048 per patient in the IG.

Conclusion: Adding a dietitian to a geriatric discharge Liaison-Team decreased health care costs.