Caregivers and patient sit at a table; a briefcase is labeled DispatchHealth
Credit: DispatchHealth

In-home medical care provider DispatchHealth on Tuesday disclosed a partnership with Instacart to address clients’ nutritional needs through medically tailored home-delivered meals.

“Our health happens in our homes,” Andrea Pearson, chief growth officer at DispatchHealth, which provides high-acuity care in the home, said in an interview with McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. “It’s the decisions that we make and the hours between the times that we’re accessing healthcare, for the most part, and so I think about the place that a lot of that starts is at the refrigerator.”

By partnering with Instacart, DispatchHealth is able to create “shopping lists” of medically tailored meals that can be delivered directly to patients’ doorsteps.

“We worked closely with Instacart to develop these clinically directed menus — lists, as it were,” Pearson said. “So the nice thing about the way this is structured is, for our advanced care team, they are actually able to go and access those meal plans and order on behalf of the patient. So all the patient has to do is receive those groceries.”

Patients can pay with their preferred payment method, or if their Medicare Advantage plan allows, DispatchHealth can offer a stipend to cover the groceries’ cost. In October 2023, Instacart partnered with InComm Payment, a payment technology firm, enabling MA plans to use Instacart’s meal delivery services as a nonmedical supplemental benefit.

Nutrition as a social determinant of health

The partnership helps DispatchHealth’s medical professionals address their patients’ nutritional needs — an important social determinant of health (SDOH) and a critical part of providing holistic care.

About 1 in 3 patients that DispatchHealth serves struggles with a serious SDOH; for roughly 22% of these individuals, their challenge is food insecurity, Pearson said, referencing a white paper the company released last year.

“If health happens at home, those social determinants are also happening and need to be addressed,” she said. “We have a unique perspective walking into someone’s home where we see things that can never be seen in the bay of an emergency room or in a hospital room. And there’s a certain comfort and intimacy to the conversation about someone’s health where it is acceptable to say, ‘Do you have the nutrition you need?’”

A natural fit 

Instacart, meanwhile, has also affirmed its commitment to giving home care providers the tools to address their patients’ SDOH.

“Nutrition access is fundamental to maintaining and improving health,” Sarah Mastrorocco, vice president and general manager of Instacart Health, said in a statement. “Our tools also help patients engage with DispatchHealth’s medically tailored nutrition education and inspiration, allowing them to take immediate action on their provider’s expert advice.”

Currently, Instacart’s meal delivery benefits are available for DispatchHealth’s advanced care patients. The company expects to eventually make the service available to all of its patients, Pearson noted.

“Food is medicine, food is part of a patient’s successful recovery, and we’re pleased to begin the rollout of this partnership,” she said.