Food-as-medicine programs continue to gain momentum, with some studies indicating they can help patients show clinical improvements for conditions such as diabetes. In one example, a telenutrition company called Foodsmart is scaling up the reach of its comprehensive “foodcare” program in partnership with three large health systems: Advocate Health, Memorial Hermann Health System, and Intermountain Health.
The company has received $10 million in funding from the three health systems plus the American College of Cardiology and Glen Tullman, the founder of Allscripts, as well as Livongo and Transcarent. That brings its Series C funding to $40 million.
Foodsmart already supports more than 2 million members across the country through partnerships with some of the nation’s largest health plans and employers.
Primary care providers can use “foodscripts” to help their patient improve their food and nutrition security. Foodscripts mimic a pharmacy prescription: Patients receive a referral to Foodsmart dietitians and subsidized meals tailored to their condition(s).
The company says that new drugs like Ozempic and traditional group coaching methods have good short-term outcomes but often fail to change health outcomes in the long run. “This causes payers to repeatedly reinvest significant capital in therapy that doesn’t last. Step therapies that integrate foodcare such as Foodsmart with jump-starters like Ozempic and group coaching can dramatically lower the cost of care,” Foodsmart said.
Tied to Foodsmart’s partnerships with health plans, patients typically receive the foodscripts, access to telenutrition visits, medically tailored food subsidies, and the Foodsmart platform, all at $0 out-of-pocket costs.
Foodsmart said its “food is medicine” approach has shown significant impact:
• 42 percent of members with food insecurity become food-secure within six months
• 55 percent of Medicaid members with obesity lose more than 5 percent of weight at 12 months
• 33 percent of patients with Hypertension achieve blood pressure control over an average of 9 months
• 39 percent of patients with diabetes control HbA1c at 24 months
• $40 per member per month (PMPM) savings across the full health plan population, and $353 PMPM Rx savings for diabesity medications
While the Foodscripts program is initially rolling out among three large health systems, Foodsmart said it aims to expand the program nationwide.
Jason Langheier, M.D., M.P.H., is the CEO and founder of Foodsmart. He previously launched Boston Medical Center’s Nutrition and Fitness for Life pediatric obesity program, founded Fitness Forward and the Coack K Drive 2 Fitness health education program for low-income elementary-aged kids and was the co-founder and CTO of Proventys, that developed personalized cancer decision support, now part of US Oncology and McKesson.