DENVER—Instacart has partnered with DispatchHealth in an effort to ensure homebound patients have access to nutritious foods. Using Instacart Health technology, DispatchHealth’s in-home providers can now prescribe food interventions as easily as they do traditional medications. This collaboration marks a significant step forward in the ongoing battle against the substantial impact of food insecurity on healthcare costs. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates food insecurity adds an annual expenditure of nearly $52 billion.
“Our patients’ well-being is closely tied to their environment, and we witness firsthand how social determinants like nutritional accessibility affect their overall health. We are literally in the kitchen with our patients and not many provider groups can get to that level of granularity,” said DispatchHealth Chief Medical Officer Dr. Phil Mitchell. “Our collaboration with Instacart empowers us to bridge these gaps and bring about tangible improvements in our patients’ lives.”
As a comprehensive provider of acute and post-acute in-home medical care, DispatchHealth is positioned to assess patients’ complete health needs.
Instacart Health leverages Instacart’s platform, products and partnerships to increase access to nutritious foods, inspire healthy choices and scale food as medicine programs across the country. The program empowers DispatchHealth’s medical professionals to allocate digital, category-specific food stipends to patients using Fresh Funds, offer patients medically tailored shopping lists through customized virtual storefronts and send food directly to patients’ doorsteps in as fast as an hour through care carts, which could help boost adherence rates.
The effort addresses a gap in the health care sector, with the potential to generate substantial returns, the companies said in a news release. According to a recent report from researchers at the Food is Medicine Institute at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, the integration of medically tailored meals into the health care system—specifically within Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance for individuals with diet-related conditions and limited capacity for daily activities—could prevent approximately 1.6 million hospitalizations. Moreover, according to the study, integrating medically tailored meals could yield substantial financial benefits, with an estimated net savings of $13.6 billion in health care costs in the first year alone.
“Nutrition access is fundamental to maintaining and improving health, and leveraging Instacart’s technology and reach, we’re able to partner with at-home care providers like DispatchHealth to ensure their patients can get the essentials they need delivered from the local retailers they trust,” said Sarah Mastrorocco, vice president and general manager of Instacart Health. “Our tools also help patients engage with DispatchHealth’s medically tailored nutrition education and inspiration, allowing them to take immediate action on their provider’s expert advice.”
Instacart accepts diverse payment options on its platform—including FSA and HSA cards, eligible Medicare Advantage health payment cards like OTC Network, and SNAP benefits.