How analytics can improve malnutrition diagnosis, tracking and management

December 15, 2022
Categories: Skilled nursing
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Proper nutrition is key to keeping residents healthy, as we’ve discussed here at the MatrixCare blog. But important as it is, nutrition is just one side of the coin. To best ensure the health of residents — and fully functioning facilities — long-term care providers must also focus on effective malnutrition diagnosis and management among their residents. And a newly introduced tool is now available that puts the power of analytics to work on this important effort.

A new way to ensure organization-wide malnutrition diagnosis, tracking and management

Until now, the job of malnutrition diagnosis, tracking and management across an organization hasn’t just been difficult, but virtually impossible. Scattered information, fragmented cross-discipline communication, delayed completion of documentation, and lack of organization all contribute to the challenge. But today, with the power of analytics, nurses, dietitians, physicians, and leaders have an easy-to-use tool to more effectively track the accuracy of, manage and even help prevent malnutrition.

A new malnutrition analysis tool from MatrixCare gives nurses and dietitians quick and easy access to up-to-the-minute info they need about resident malnutrition. In the process, the facilities in which they work will gain important efficiencies in care coordination, while the entire organization will benefit from the power to better manage malnutrition across every facility with a single report.

By applying this analytical tool to manage malnutrition across an entire organization, leaders can ensure that caregivers are consistently taking the right actions with residents in various stages of malnutrition or malnutrition risk. Early identification of residents at risk for developing malnutrition is available in real time — an ability not currently offered by any other nutrition management tool, and almost impossible to effectively manage manually.

How malnutrition exposes organizations to serious risk

According to published research, an estimated 35 to 50 percent of residents have some form of malnutrition upon admission to skilled nursing facilities. Failing to identify or manage it doesn’t just pose a risk to resident health. It also represents a loss of reimbursement dollars under the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM), which identifies malnutrition under its Non-Therapy Ancillary (NTA) Services.

An estimated 35-50% of residents have some form of malnutrition upon admission.

In addition, malnutrition impacts functional decline and cognition, and is associated with falls and wounds. It can also lead to changes in overall condition and readmission to hospitals — all of which can jeopardize an organization’s profitability as well as its ability to gain new referrals.

Yet malnutrition diagnosis represents less than 12 percent of all claims — a striking figure when compared to the data that as many as half of all residents may be affected. So, because it’s frequently undiagnosed, malnutrition is rarely managed and treated as well as it should be, putting organizations at risk not only of patient deterioration, but also of losing valuable revenue.

Malnutrition diagnosis represents less than 12% of all possible claims.

All the info needed for effective malnutrition management, in one place

Before this new analytical tool, capturing the information needed to identify, manage and combat malnutrition was an inefficient, time-consuming process. Users needed to access and analyze various parts of a medical chart and contact fellow clinicians to get a complete picture of a resident’s malnutrition status. It was a slow and frustrating task, with no tools available to speed it up or improve its efficiency.

For years, there’s been an unmet need for effective malnutrition diagnosis and management in one easy-to-view location. Workers should have the power to drill quickly and easily into facility, unit, and resident details to see the percent of residents who are malnourished or at risk for developing malnutrition, as well as weight, meal consumption and a host of other essential criteria.

And with that info, clinical staff could better monitor residents with wounds and malnutrition — two closely related metrics. They can also carry out earlier interventions to improve health outcomes. Both leaders and care providers could much more readily assess every resident’s status and take the appropriate action, both globally or for each individual resident.

The power to manage malnutrition across an entire enterprise

In addition to malnutrition diagnosis and management, an effective tool to meet this goal should also help enable easier detection of important criteria like outliers, improvements and declines. And by promoting more efficient cross-discipline communication, it should help overcome a common and costly clinical roadblock, helping to enable faster malnutrition diagnoses and nutrition interventions.

For instance, when a diagnosis is added to a resident’s record within three days of admission, that information is rarely available to the dietitians who need it to create the appropriate treatment plan. To get that info for each resident, they’d have to rely on communication from nursing — an extra task that requires extra time, and one that may lead nowhere if busy workers aren’t able to connect.

But what if dietitians could get that data upon admission? What if they could see the same information as doctors and nurses, with no translation necessary? They would be able to more accurately assess each resident’s true clinical picture, and avoid inaccurate diagnoses. They’ll also be better prepared to help determine a malnutrition diagnosis within the five-day timeframe required by PDPM rules.

A truly effective malnutrition diagnosis and management tool with this ability offers transformative innovation on several levels. For instance, leaders can view an organization-wide malnutrition report, letting them quickly see which facilities have higher overall rates of malnutrition, or levels of risk. In the process, they can improve their ability to identify this frequently undiagnosed condition across their entire enterprise, and earn the appropriate reimbursement.

Introducing a better tool for malnutrition diagnosis and management

The solution is here. With the latest update to the MatrixCare MyAnalytics platform, users have the power to gather and correlate essential data related to malnutrition, including resident meals, weight, and wounds. Nutritional assessments are timelier as a result, and malnutrition treatment plans initiated sooner.

Because it calculates not only the percentage of residents with malnutrition, but also the residents who are most at risk of a future diagnosis, the new MyAnalytics tool represents a true breakthrough in nutrition and malnutrition management. This compilation of information simply was not available in any previous analytical tool, and virtually impossible to be done manually.

And these benefits can be put to even better use in conjunction with MatrixCare MealTracker, a larger system that leverages each specific nutritional information to create menus for residents. Resident profile details can be used to better manage the needs of those who are malnourished, and implement the appropriate interventions — such as, improving intake and timing of meals, or adding snacks to increase and improve caloric intake, all while honoring resident preferences.

In addition, MealTracker can help organizations identify and manage weight loss with the Weight Alert Flag, while also monitoring for important malnutrition criteria like resident body mass index (BMI). The MealTracker Malnutrition Risk Alert feature also helps notify care providers of those who are at a high level of risk. Learn more about MealTracker here.

Get help with malnutrition diagnosis and management with MatrixCare MyAnalytics

At MatrixCare, we understand the importance of malnutrition management, and we’ve leveraged decades of expertise to create a tool that can effectively manage it in a way that scales across your entire enterprise. Learn more about what our MyAnalytics solution can do for your organization — contact us here to connect with a MatrixCare specialist, or request your free demo now.


Sandy Hudak
Sandy Hudak

Sandy is an Associate Product Manager for MatrixCare MyAnalytics and MyData. Since joining MatrixCare she has been responsible for leading the design and development of clinical outcomes reporting for MyAnalytics. Sandy is a registered nurse with an extensive background in clinical outcomes studies resulting in the design and development of clinical management programs for integration into electronic health records in the post-acute care market. She is passionate about providing clinicians with technologies that will support earlier identification of resident risks to promote earlier implementation of intervention strategies to improve overall quality of care. Sandy received her Master of Science degree with a focus on Nursing Informatics from the University of Maryland School of Nursing.


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