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COACH Hospitals Implementing Healthy Access Food Pilot, Temple among First to Report Preliminary Data

September 14, 2017

The COACH (Collaborative Opportunities to Advance Community Health) collaborative is making progress toward its goal of addressing food insecurity among vulnerable, at-risk patients in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Sponsored by HAP and facilitated by The Health Care Improvement Foundation, COACH consists of seven health systems representing 18 hospitals working with 16 public health, community, and insurer partners. COACH's current initiative, the Healthy Food Access Pilot, asks hospitals and health systems to work with community partners in order to:

  • Screen patients for food insecurity
  • Connect patients in need with helpful resources

At a meeting this week, hospital partners reported about pilot implementation, sharing their progress in:

  • Selecting clinical care sites for screening
  • Developing overall plans for screening and referral
  • Educating staff on screening and referral processes

Many hospitals have begun to implement a standardized screening tool and referrals are beginning to connect patients with much-needed resources.

Temple University Health System was among the first to report out preliminary data. Following evidence-based best practices, community health workers in Temple’s Access Center were trained to include two questions about food insecurity in post-discharge follow-up calls.

During the first two weeks:

  • 378 patients were screened
  • 75 (19%) were found to be food insecure, consistent with Philadelphia’s overall rate (about 21% of Philadelphians are food insecure)

Of the 75 patients who screened positive for food insecurity:

  • 43 currently receive food assistance; 28 of these asked to be directly transferred to COACH partner United Way’s free 211 phone assistance to learn how they could get additional help
  • 16 did not currently receive food assistance and asked to be directly transferred to Coalition Against Hunger—another COACH partner—where staff were primed to connect patients with SNAP nutritional assistance and other public benefits

These early results provide insight into how hospitals can make an impact on care in nontraditional ways.    

Food insecurity is one of the many social determinants that can compromise patients’ health—as well as the effectiveness of the health care they receive. COACH was formed to foster a collaborative approach for developing and implementing health care improvements that address such community health needs. The Healthy Food Access Pilot is COACH’s first initiative.

For additional information about this initiative, please contact Robert Shipp, HAP’s vice president, population health strategies.    

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