How Tech-Driven Food as Medicine Is Changing Healthcare

by Sifter
Judy Seybold
February 22, 2023
February 22, 2023
Health systems and insurers now recognize that food programs and health incentives are an integral part of disease prevention and treatment. The goal is to improve health outcomes—and drive down healthcare costs. And the key to achieving this goal is intelligent, AI-driven technology that accurately matches specific, complex medical needs to the right foods.

What's driving change

The healthcare industry is experiencing a period of change1,2, and four key factors are driving this development:

An emerging body of research demonstrates the enormous promise of Food as Medicine interventions across a range of health conditions in improving health and quality of life while curbing health care costs.2

Reducing nutrition barriers—and healthcare costs

Poor nutrition has a devastating national impact on both physical and economic health. The poor diet of most Americans has created an epidemic of chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and 13 nutrition-related cancers. Not only do these diseases drive up healthcare costs, but they cause lost wages, reduced productivity, and reduced economic output1.

A comprehensive review of the research shows that using Food as Medicine interventions can be especially effective in low-income communities with limited access to nutritious food2. The challenge becomes scaling these interventions effectively and efficiently while continuing health improvements and lowering of costs.

The overall economic cost is estimated at $16 trillion between 2011-2020. The U.S. is expected to lose another $6.1 trillion between 2021-2023.1

Food as Medicine programs      

Smart "shop by diet" technology can modernize three popular food-based interventions that show considerable promise in improving health outcomes and food security (1,6,7):

Advancing Food as Medicine through technology

A comprehensive review of 49 published studies on these interventions show improved food security, improved dietary intake and health status, improved disease-specific health outcomes, decreased depression, and lower healthcare costs and healthcare utilization2. Digital tools, powered by machine learning and scientific algorithms, can precisely identify foods that match special diets and align with multiple chronic conditions, cultural needs, and lifestyle preferences. This advanced technology could modernize Food as Medicine. Medically tailored grocery kits, for example, could be customized to perfectly align with the individual's socioeconomic make-up and include convenience, pre-prepped, packaged foods that match unique dietary needs and lifestyle preferences.

Food as Medicine programs must balance medical tailoring with cultural acceptability and emphasize a person-centered approach. The highest quality, evidence-based interventions are only successful if they meet a patient's true needs—and Sifter technology makes this possible.

The opportunity is now

All health channels play a key role in successfully using food to prevent and treat disease. Sifter technology enables health systems and insurers to build member loyalty, reduce healthcare spending, improve member health, and slow the growth of diet-related diseases. Our precise AI-driven "sifting" accurately filters more than 140+ dietary attributes, including chronic diet-related conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol, against hundreds of thousands of brand and private label grocery products sold across all food categories—fresh, frozen, canned, and packaged.

Let us show you how integrating Sifter's Shop By Diet technology can elevate your current health program to a new level of performance and profitability—while helping address the need for greater public health.

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1. The Economic Costs of Poor Nutrition, American Action Forum, March 2022
2. Food is Medicine Research Action Plan, Aspen Institute, January 2022
3. Fresh Food As Medicine for the Heartburn of High Prices, Deloitte Insights, September 2022
4. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990-2017, The Lancet, May 2019
5. Executive Summary: Biden-Harris Administration National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, September 2022
6. Retail Nutrition Programs and Outcomes: An Evidence Analysis Center Scoping Review, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2021
7. Food Is Medicine: Actions to Integrate Food and Nutrition into Healthcare, BMJ, June 2020

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