Evaluating Impact of the Food is Medicine Approach on Health

Project summary

The home delivery of medically tailored meals (“MTM”)—an approach called ‘Food is Medicine,’ offers a convenient, healthy, and medically optimized diet for the severely ill. The project team evaluated the impact of MTM programs on healthcare expenditures, inpatient hospitalizations, and emergency department visits in severely ill and nutritionally vulnerable adults.

Photo by Kate McElwee.

Research Question(s)

  • What is the effect of a Medically Tailored Meals program on healthcare expenditures in severely ill and nutritionally vulnerable adults?
  • What is the effect of a Medically Tailored Meals program on inpatient hospitalizations and emergency department visits in severely ill and nutritionally vulnerable adults?

Actionability

  • Inform policy discussions and funding decisions regarding provision of medically tailored meals, and whether such a service may realize improved health outcomes and/or healthcare cost savings.
  • Provide guidance about how partnerships between social services and healthcare organizations may address fundamental causes of adverse health outcomes for the severely ill who are high utilizers of healthcare.

Results

Participation in a medically tailored meal (MTM) intervention is associated with fewer subsequent hospitalizations and nursing home admissions – major components of the nation’s healthcare budget. MTM participants experienced a 16% reduction in monthly healthcare costs vs. a matched control group.

Outcomes

Health: emergency department visits and inpatient admissions; indicators of disease progression including subcategories related to specific illnesses (e.g., diabetes or cancer); medication adherence

Economic: health care expenditures and chronic disease management outcomes such as meeting process measures

Methodology

Health: emergency department visits and inpatient admissions; indicators of disease progression including subcategories related to specific illnesses (e.g., diabetes or cancer); medication adherence

Economic: health care expenditures and chronic disease management outcomes such as meeting process measures


Close up of hands working some dough on a cookie sheet
Grantee and Partner organizations

Community Servings, Inc.
Massachusetts Department of Health
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Grant status
Completed
Principal investigators
Jean Terranova, JD
Seth A. Berkowitz, MD, MPH
Kevin C. Cranston, MDiv
Liisa M. Randall, PhD
Start date
Award amount
$358,040
Duration
30 months

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