As Geisinger started to consider a fundamentally different approach to how they treated Type II diabetes, they recognized that without the proper food available for this diet responsive condition, patients would likely remain unmanaged and have further health complications.
Geisinger’s Fresh Food Farmacy program, while recognizing that a patient’s situation may change at any point during their journey, began annual screenings of EHRs (electronic health records) to identify patients who were both food insecure and suffered from uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes (HBA1C levels greater than 8). Qualifying patients are referred for proactive reach out, can request to join, or are referred by their physician or other health care provider.
Each week, patients receive enough food to prepare healthy and nutritious meals for their whole family, twice a day for five days, utilizing recipes provided by Geisinger registered dieticians to encourage them to explore and prepare new healthy options on their own. Staples include fresh fruits; whole grains; lean proteins such as chicken, fish, turkey, pork, and vegetarian friendly entrees; and additional staple items within guides for diets with limited sodium, saturated fats, and carbohydrates.
By identifying the connection between food insecurity and adverse health outcomes, Geisinger developed a team-based approach to improving their patients’ health.
Patients often “give up” on trying to manage their diabetes, becoming complacent with poor health and frequent visits to the hospital become part of their routine. Breaking that cycle by providing a program where they can see the direct impact on their clinical outcomes, empowers patients in Geisinger’s program and not just benefits them physically and clinically, but also emotionally. They see the true benefits derived by developing a healthier diet.