At ProMedica, screening patients for hunger is as routine as taking their blood pressure or gathering their smoking history. During every visit, providers ask patients two simple questions about their food security and document the responses in Epic. When a patient is identified as food-insecure, “Physicians write a referral, essentially a prescription for those patients,” CIO Lori Johnston said. Patients take that prescription to one of ProMedica’s food pharmacies, which offer healthy food, recipes, and nutrition coaching. Among patients who participated, readmission rates dropped 53%.
The Epic-based solution is one of several ProMedica initiatives to fight hunger in Toledo, Ohio, where the poverty growth rate is the fastest of any city of its size in the United States. ProMedica has also partnered with the local casino to reclaim leftover food and donate it to area food pantries. To date, they’ve donated more than 300,000 pounds of food, equivalent to 275,000 meals.