Dr. Seth Berkowitz from the division of general medicine and clinical epidemiology led a study that investigated the potential for meal delivery programs to reduce the use of costly health care and decrease spending for vulnerable patients.

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Dr. Seth Berkowitz

Delivering food to nutritionally vulnerable patients can be important for addressing the social determinants of health. Dr. Berkowitz’s study recognizes how social factors can shape health, a growing area of interest for health-insurance companies interested in containing costs.

“We do know that people, when they face food insecurity, often make a lot of trade-offs: Do I pay for my food? Do I pay for my medicine?” says Dr. Berkowitz in a Washington Post article. “Not knowing where your next meal is coming from is stressful. It may be difficult to manage your chronic condition when you’re worrying about that.”

According to the article, the study looked at participants from the Commonwealth Care Alliance, a nonprofit community-based health plan in Massachusetts that provides coverage to people who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. The people who qualify for these services tend to be poor with complicated health problems. The health plan offered enrollment in a regular home-delivery meal program or one that was tailored to the patient’s specific dietary needs.

Dr. Darren DeWalt, chief of general medicine and clinical epidemiology in the department of medicine also contributed to the study.

To learn more, visit: Health Affairs.