Managing Diabetes with Help from the Farmacy

Patients receiving fresh, healthy food experience a 20% drop in A1c levels


More than 30 million Americans have diabetes. Because a diabetic-friendly diet is so important to diabetes management, it’s no surprise that diabetic patients experiencing food insecurity are less likely to self-manage their condition to keep it under control.

In central Pennsylvania, the area served by Geisinger Health System, one out of every eight people experiencing food insecurity has diabetes. To help these patients manage their conditions, Geisinger implemented the Fresh Food Farmacy project, a program that helps certain diabetic patients receive fresh, healthy food at no personal cost. To identify participants for the pilot program, Geisinger used data in Epic to identify type 2 diabetic patients in select ZIP Codes with A1c levels over 8.0, indicating that their diabetes was not well controlled.

The program now serves 115 patients and their families, with the goal of reaching 250 patients by August 2018. In addition to enough healthy food to feed themselves and their families two meals a day for five days, patients in the Fresh Food Farmacy program receive education and counseling that helps them better understand their condition and lifestyle changes that they can make to keep it under control. The improvements that patients participating in the program have seen in their conditions have resulted in costs of care that are 66% lower than similar patients not in the program. On average, patients who have been participating in the program for at least a year have also seen a 20% decrease in their A1c levels and have improved their blood pressure and cholesterol as well.

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