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Fighting Food Insecurity with Epic to Improve Health Outcomes

ProMedica’s food clinic helps patients manage chronic conditions with access to healthy food

At least 37 million Americans live in households experiencing food insecurity—a situation exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic—and the lack of consistent access to nutritious food affects their health. ProMedica in Ohio is tackling this problem by referring patients to a “food clinic.” Medicare patients enrolled in the program have seen their medical costs drop by 6%, ED usage decrease by 18%, and all-caused readmission rate fall by 5%.

During each visit, clinicians are guided in Epic to ask questions about the patient’s access to food, such as whether the patient has run out of money for groceries in the past year. They document the patient’s answers in the chart, and if the answers indicate food insecurity, clinicians see a reminder to let the patient know about the food clinic program. At the food clinic, patients receive both healthy food and tailored nutritional counseling.

The food clinic has remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic to combat additional food insecurity.

“We know that food insecurity affects children’s physical development and mental health, and in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, even more people in our community are struggling to feed their families,” said Katie Ward, DNP, RN, associate vice president of clinical integration and outcomes for ProMedica’s National Social Determinants of Health Institute. “The food clinic program is a way for us to take some of that stress off our patients and improve their health.”

Epic community members can learn more about Promedica’s food insecurity screening program on the UserWeb and have Epic staff install it as part of Epic’s Services.