Foodsmart, the nation’s leading telenutrition and foodcare company, today announced that Texas-based Memorial Hermann Health System – a non-profit, award-winning health system committed to creating healthier Houston communities –has joined as an investor in its platform.
Foodsmart empowers individuals to make sustainable changes to eating behavior and health outcomes through its dietary assessment and nutrition counseling, personalized meal planning and custom recommendations for getting healthier food on the table, every day. Foodsmart also makes it easy and affordable to buy healthy food in person or online, with national and regional retail partners now accepting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) Electronic Benefit Transfer System online. The platform is helping to bring healthier food within reach to eligible members and can also assist with SNAP enrollment and support maximizing limited budget on quality food.
According to HealthAffairs.org, nearly 50 million Americans are food insecure, which makes food insecurity one of the leading health issues in the country. Multiple studies have linked food insecurity to distressing health outcomes, including chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and for children, asthma, behavioral problems, and poor academic performance. Access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been shown to substantially reduce the prevalence of food insecurity, thereby improving health outcomes.
Memorial Hermann, one of the largest non-profit health systems in Texas, is helping set the standard of care for the state and has long been focused on treating food as an integral component to one’s overall health. Already today, patients at Memorial Hermann are screened for food insecurity and have access to several resources providing support and assistance in getting healthy, nutritious food.
“Given our system’s focus on addressing the social determinates of health, which are proven to have a major impact on people’s health, well-being and quality of life, investing in a company like Foodsmart aligns with our organization’s mission to improve health for all those we serve,” said Alec King, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Memorial Hermann.
In addition, it was announced that Memorial Hermann is also joining as a founding member of Foodsmart’s new Foodscripts Network. Memorial Hermann joins the network with other providers such as Advocate Health, Allscripts founder Glen Tullman – one of the early drivers of e-prescribing, and the American College of Cardiology. The network’s goal is to make it easier for patients to follow-through on advice from their care providers to improve their nutrition.
Most chronic disease care guidelines call for dietary changes as a primary and ongoing intervention, before and alongside medications, but adherence to guidelines is difficult. Due to concerted efforts to evolve the pharmacy value chain, it is now easy to create a drug order for pickup at a pharmacy in a patient’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) – much easier than creating a personalized meal plan and referring to a registered dietitian, at present.
Since Foodsmart is integrated with grocers, restaurants and meal vendors nationwide, and facilitates dietitian referrals, personalized counseling and meal planning while leveraging discounts or payer-funded food support, providers now have the power to make it easier to help their patients eat well.
Partly due to factors like the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, the United States has experienced dramatic increases in food and nutrition insecurity, obesity and chronic disease over the past few years, according to a recent study from Trust for America’s Health. Foodsmart’s published studies have shown that comprehensive food care can reduce food insecurity by 42 percent and sustain continued weight loss and metabolic syndrome improvement even after three years – unlike traditional coaching where people tend to relapse by the two-year mark.
Further, though modern more targeted (and expensive) medications are becoming available to treat intractable hyperlipidemia, obesity and countless conditions, overall costs to value-based care providers and payers are much less when the use of medications is balanced with food care. Controlled claims studies from some payers have shown savings upwards of $40 per member per month.
“As a key focus of our strategic investment philosophy at Memorial Hermann, we want to invest in innovative companies that are addressing global challenges across the health care industry,” said Feby Abraham, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for Memorial Herman. “We know food insecurity and chronic disease are two key issues that must be addressed in order to achieve our system’s vision of creating healthier communities, which is why we are proud to help support this important work from which we can all benefit.”
“Clinical guidelines for a number of conditions– from hyperlipidemia, hypertension, obesity and diabetes to kidney disease and cancer care–call for patients to modify their diet as a core part of care. But, while doctors can easily digitally order specific medications listed on guidelines to be picked up from the local pharmacy, they have limited ability to help patients follow through with specific, personalized nutrition guidance,” said Jason Langheier, MD, MPH, CEO and Founder of Foodsmart. “By having health systems like Memorial Hermann invest in our work, we are helping to change that. Their leadership, together with the other founding members of the Foodscripts Network, will make ‘food is medicine’ a normal part of care, and that, in turn, will help sustainably overcome food insecurity and chronic disease in America.”