Medically Tailored Meals & Healthcare Utilization Study

Medically tailored meal recipients, who typically experience multiple chronic conditions, can be some of the highest need, highest cost patients to treat. Registered dietitian nutritionists customize medically tailored meals to address the primary condition, co-occurring illnesses, and medication considerations.

The individuals who stand to gain the most from medically tailored meals:

  • Have one or more complex chronic illnesses
  • Are socioeconomically disadvantaged
  • Face food insecurity and other challenges gaining access to healthy food
  • Experience complex dietary requirements
Read our white paper on this study

Community Servings’ medically tailored meals and healthcare utilization study sought to determine whether participation in a medically tailored meal intervention is associated with fewer subsequent hospitalizations and nursing home admissions – major components of the nation’s healthcare budget. The study, supported by Robert Wood Johnson’s Evidence for Action Program,  was published in the April 2019 edition of the medical journal JAMA – Internal Medicine.

“The evidence that medically tailored meal delivery programs may be a useful intervention for vulnerable individuals continues to grow. The next step will be to test these interventions in randomized trials to help better understand in what situations medically tailored meal delivery programs should be used.”
– Dr. Seth Berkowitz, research author affiliated with the University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Key Findings

Our medically tailored meals and healthcare utilization study is the largest study to date, studying 807 medically tailored meals recipients across multiple insurance payers. Because the study looked at a broader population (statewide healthcare claims from 2011 to 2015 as reflected in the Massachusetts All-Payer Claims Database, MA-APCD) it provides a more accurate picture of the association between medically tailored meals intervention participation and healthcare utilization and cost.

Researchers found that receipt of medically tailored meals was associated with significantly fewer inpatient admissions and skilled nursing facility admissions. The study team estimated that had everyone in the matched cohort received medically tailored meals, average individual monthly healthcare costs would have been $3,838 versus $4,591 – a difference of $753 per person per month or 16% less.

Findings are similar to the healthcare savings estimate in our previous study published in Health Affairs. 

Read the study
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