DANVILLE, Pa. – A group of Geisinger leaders authored a new article published by the Harvard Business Review entitled “How Geisinger Treats Diabetes by Giving Away Free, Healthy Food.”
Andrea Feinberg, M.D., medical director of Geisinger’s Health and Wellness Program; Jonathan Slotkin, M.D., director of spinal surgery for Geisinger’s Neuroscience Institute and medical director of Geisinger in Motion; Allison Hess, associate vice president, Geisinger’s Health and Wellness Program; and Alistair Eskine, M.D., chief informatics officer, Geisinger; authored.
The article details how Geisinger is improving the health of adult patients with Type 2 diabetes through a new program called the Fresh Food Farmacy. Piloted at Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital in Coal Township, the program provides free healthy food to patients who are diabetic and food insecure. The Farmacy provides 10 meals per week to approximately 250 people, including 80 patients and their immediate family members. Providing food is just one component of the multidisciplinary program which also includes health consultations and counseling from a nurse health manager,, registered dietitian, pharmacist, health coach and community health assistant.
In just a year, the Fresh Food Farmacy has had clinical success in treating Type 2 diabetes superior to medication alone. In the patients enrolled in the program, HbA1c levels have dropped more than two points, in addition to improvements in cholesterol, blood sugars, triglycerides and weight. Patients are better adhering to their medications and in some cases, have reduced their reliance on costly medication to treat their condition.
“Taking a population health approach has been very helpful in this community endeavor,” said Dr. Andrea Feinberg, the clinical champion behind the Fresh Food Farmacy concept. “Using a medical home approach, the team has successfully integrated health care delivery while meeting the social needs of our patients. For patients with Type 2 diabetes and food insecurity, we have seen a significant impact and look forward to sharing our clinical results with the medical community.”
Next steps for the Fresh Food Farmacy include demonstrating its financial impact so payers and large healthcare purchasers will financially support it, along with seeking partnership from a national retailer to help scale the program.
“Fresh Food Farmacy can be scaled to a national level for those affected by food insecurity, to improve the health of patients with Type 2 diabetes, and reduce their health care costs,” said Dr. Feinberg.
To learn more about the Fresh Food Farmacy and its impact, visit www.freshfoodfarmacy.org.
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a Research Institute and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. With nearly 24,000 employees and more than 1,700 employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.