How Instacart is delivering the next healthcare disruption

Grocery delivery company Instacart is expanding its number of partnerships with hospitals and health systems to incorporate medical expertise and benefits into their services, aiming to enhance patient access to nutritious food and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Instacart launched its Instacart Health initiative in September 2022 and has since partnered with Boston Children's Hospital; Orange, Calif.-based Alignment Healthcare; Mount Sinai Solutions; and Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente. 

The partnerships aim to harness the positive relationship between consuming nutritious food and experiencing better health outcomes, while addressing the need for increased access to obtaining and incorporating these products. 

"We know that access to nutritious foods can deliver healthier outcomes, but a number of challenges have presented healthcare providers from effectively adopting food as medicine programs at scale," Sarah Mastrorocco, vice president and general manager of Instacart Health, said in a March 24 news release. "With Instacart Health, we have the unique opportunity to partner with providers to expand proven nutrition programs and deeply integrate food as medicine into standard patient care."

Providers from participating health systems can recommend items for each patient's medical or dietary needs, which patients can view through a "virtual storefront" and order for delivery. While the virtual storefront feature is offered within each partnership, they differ by choosing to focus on different patient demographics. 

Instacart Health partnered with Boston Children's Hospital to target pediatric patients with specific dietary needs. As part of Instacart Health's "food as medicine" service, the partnership launched a virtual food pharmacy that delivers provider-recommended food to pediatric patients according to their dietary needs.

Alignment Health and Instacart launched the first co-branded Medicare Advantage Plan to offer Instacart as a benefit, targeting chronically ill seniors across 13 counties in California and Nevada. Along with access to Alignment Health's virtual storefront, eligible individuals receive $50 to $100 quarterly grocery stipends through Instacart, a free Instacart+ membership, free delivery on select orders and technical assistance when creating an account and placing orders.

Mount Sinai Solutions, an employer services division of New York City-based Mount Sinai Health System, partnered with Instacart to target postoperative and postpartum patients, aiming to improve the patient recovery process and minimize rates of re-admittance and emergency visits. Patients within the Mount Sinai Solutions network who have recently received specialized care and surgery will be granted $110 for grocery delivery of products within the virtual storefront.

Kaiser Permanente and Instacart partnered to conduct a study that examines how food delivery access impacts the health outcomes of individuals with diet-related diseases, such as diabetes or chronic heart failure. Kaiser will provide a grocery stipend to Medi-Cal members in Northern and Southern California with diet-related diseases to be used on nutritious foods from the virtual storefront. Researchers will measure blood sugar levels, reported food and nutrition security, diet-related disease quality of life, patient readiness to change and hospitalization or emergency department visits.

"We're proud to offer these products to help providers expand access to nutritious food and make medically-tailored groceries and meal advice more actionable," Ms. Mastrorocco said in the release. "Together, we can help patients and their families take an active role in their health through food."

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