Prescribing Food as Medicine through Pilot Program

Research suggests that only 20% of your overall health is influenced by the medical care you receive. The remaining 80% is influenced by conditions like housing, transportation, education, and food—called “social determinants of health”.

With a recent shift toward providing value-based care, health care providers are starting to recognize the necessity of addressing social determinants of health. What if doctors prescribed medically tailored food as part of a treatment regimen? Project Angel Heart has been conducting an exciting pilot program where health care providers are doing just that.

Through our Meals for Care Transitions program, Project Angel Heart is partnering with health care organizations to provide meals to patients as part of a comprehensive care treatment plan. The collaboration will help address patients’ nutritional needs as an important piece of their recovery. 

During the program’s launch, Project Angel Heart partnered with HealthONE’s North Suburban Medical Center to provide meals for their congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients to support their recovery upon discharge. The program was designed to provide three meals a day for 30 days, delivered to patients’ home within 48 hours of discharge from the hospital.

Since the start of the pilot program, 19 patients have received meals through Meals for Care Transitions. We are pleased to report that there have been zero hospital readmissions within 30 days of discharge for patients that received meals. This metric is a testament to the power of medically tailored meals as medicine, as an average of one in four patients living with CHF and one in five living with COPD are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days.

Additionally, 79% of patients have reported an improvement in their overall health over the course of the program, and have experienced a 161% increase in energy due to the meals.

According to one patient surveyed, “My doctor is thrilled with my recovery since receiving heart surgery. These meals have made a huge difference for me and my health.”

Many different types of health care organizations across the state are expressing interest in Meals for Care Transitions. Home health agencies, hospital systems, and senior care services see the benefit of providing medically tailored meals as a component of comprehensive care.

To learn more about Meals for Care Transitions, please contact Leslie Scotland-Stewart at lscotlandstewart@projectangelheart.org.

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