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Rx: Doctors Prescribe Broccoli-Health Food Prescriptions

Posted by Chip Block on May 22, 2019 5:00 PM EDT
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Building on some of the past blog postings about ways to drive large scale culture changes and the role of influencers and "nudges"....

....a recently published article in The Washington Post, and written by Fenit Nirappil, provided some interesting insight into moves some doctors are making to literally write "scripts" for health food vouchers for their patients who have chronic illnesses that can be abated through better nutrition.

According to the article, hospitals and local governments nationwide have been writing and filling prescriptions for healthy food in an effort to address the root causes of diabetes, hypertension and other costly illnesses.  The article continues on by stating that the goal, backed by some research, is to improve health and reduce costs by subsidizing fresh produce such as broccoli and grapefruit in addition to insulin and beta blockers.  Improved diet is also a target.

In 2001, Boston Medical Center launched one of the first food pharmacies with its preventive food pantry in the basement of the safety net hospital.  In San Francisco, health officials found that patients were more likely to pick up food from weekly events at neighborhood clinics at the public hospital.  In Pennsylvania, the Fresh Food Farmacy initiative by regional health insurer and provider Geisinger provides produce, cooking demonstrations and diabetes management lessons to 700 patients in the state.  An official with Geisinger said that the Fresh Food Farmacy costs about $3,500 per family annually.  And drops in blood sugar would result in greater savings than that due to fewer medications.

So, here is a real-world example of the kinds of actions that Joe addressed in his last blog.  Making meaningful changes that can shift dollars from medications, procedures and hospital stays to lower costs and more sustainable eating habits.

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