Instacart taps DispatchHealth to expand its reach to home care providers

Grocery delivery company Instacart notched another partnership with a care provider as it extends its reach into healthcare.

The company will work with in-home care provider DispatchHealth to enable providers to prescribe food interventions, much like traditional medications, right to patients' homes. The companies say the collaboration will help to tackle the substantial impact of food insecurity on healthcare costs.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates food insecurity adds a staggering annual expenditure of nearly $52 billion.

"Our patients' well-being is closely tied to their environment, and we witness firsthand how social determinants like nutritional accessibility affect their overall health. We are literally in the kitchen with our patients and not many provider groups can get to that level of granularity," Dr. Phil Mitchell, DispatchHealth's chief medical officer, said in a statement. "Our collaboration with Instacart empowers us to bridge these gaps and bring about tangible improvements in our patients' lives."

Instacart launched its health division in September 2022 with a focus on expanding access to nutritious food for underserved communities. The company has rolled out new products, strategic partnerships along with research and policy advocacy commitments to help increase food security and scale food as medicine programs across the country. 

The company now partners with Boston Children’s Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, hospital-at-home solution provider Medically Home and many other organizations. Instacart also teamed up with insurtech Alignment Health to launch co-branded Medicare Advantage (MA) plans next year in some California and Nevada counties.

The new partnership with DispatchHealth enables its medical professionals to allocate digital, category-specific food stipends to patients using Fresh Funds, offer patients medically tailored shopping lists through customized Virtual Storefronts and send food directly to patients' doorsteps in as fast as an hour through Care Carts, according to the companies.

According to a recent report from researchers at the Food is Medicine Institute at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, the integration of medically tailored meals into the healthcare system — specifically within Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance for individuals with diet-related conditions and limited capacity for daily activities — could prevent approximately 1.6 million hospitalizations. And, integrating medically tailored meals could yield substantial financial benefits, with an estimated net savings of $13.6 billion in healthcare costs in the first year alone.

"Nutrition access is fundamental to maintaining and improving health, and leveraging Instacart's technology and reach, we're able to partner with at-home care providers like DispatchHealth to ensure their patients can get the essentials they need delivered from the local retailers they trust," 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."

Instacart accepts various payment options on its platform, including FSA and HSA cards, eligible Medicare Advantage health payment cards like OTC Network, and SNAP benefits.

DispatchHealth is a fast-growing in-home care company that provides same-day, urgent medical care, hospital alternative care and recovery care.

The company built a team of emergency medicine and hospitalist medicine trained care teams who are equipped with all the tools necessary — including imaging and IV infusions — to treat common to complex injuries and illnesses in the home.

The in-home care provider works closely with primary care and specialty care providers, EMS, health systems, senior living facilities and employers to deliver care in patients' homes that reduces unnecessary emergency room visits, hospital stays and readmissions, according to the company.

Since the company's inception in 2013, its medical teams have treated more than one million people in their homes across more than 30 states in the country.

DispatchHealth touts that its services have improved patient outcomes, reporting 58% emergency room avoidance, 8.5% 30-day hospital readmission, 98% patient satisfaction and nearly $1.5 billion in medical cost savings.