‘Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’ – Hippocrates
In a world where medication non-adherence is one of the biggest contributors to poor health outcomes, we’ve talked and written about how “food is medicine that we take three times a day”.
Food has many properties that you’d wish of medicine – safety (as long as handled, prepared, and stored appropriately), efficacy (a diet of healthy foods is correlated with good health outcomes), and compliance (we all have to eat!) – and is increasingly recognized as a key social determinant of health. But a regimen of multiple healthy meals a day remains a luxury to many Americans, and it continues to be the case that 20% of deaths in the U.S. are attributable to dietary risks, even more than tobacco use.
Against this backdrop, the last decade has seen a surge of healthcare programs focused on metabolic health, whether in the form of coaching for diabetes management, wellness apps for weight loss, or value-based care models for chronic diseases. While these programs may address nutrition through content and coaching, they generally don’t address the actual attainment of healthy foods, tailored to the patient’s specific health needs and preferences, and ideally covered through insurance. Even traditional providers and payors that offer food-as-medicine benefits have experienced surprisingly low rates of utilization due to lack of attractive food options, or difficulties in enrollment, reimbursement, or fulfillment. Thus, most patients fail to follow through on the nutritional coaching they receive with any regularity.
In many ways, our healthcare system is still in the “read-only” era of food-as-medicine – we can readily shop and receive advice for better dietary choices from our doctors, dieticians, health coaches, and even the NYTimes Cooking app, but translating that advice into actual healthy food showing up on our dining tables is still a disjunct, highly manual, and costly process. This is true despite the fact that the consumer food delivery market has doubled during the last two years, with a proliferation of on-demand delivery and pick-up options.
Season Health solves this conundrum by bringing nutrition prescriptions, diverse food choices, delivery and pickup logistics, and reimbursement together in its comprehensive food-as-medicine platform. The Season experience involves a virtual clinic with dietician services powered by a purpose-built practice management system; an automated payments engine that can tap into multiple reimbursement sources for point-of-prescribing coverage; and a “super cart” that sits atop a managed marketplace of grocery and prepared meal vendors.
By partnering with Season, any payor or provider can insert a turnkey, full-stack food-as-medicine program into its service offering, or leverage Season’s tech and food marketplace to enable actionability for its own in-house clinical teams. Consumers get a one-stop-shop for coaching, coverage, and the ability to make a single purchase of personalized meals from multiple food and grocery vendors.
If you were to recruit the perfect team to build a business like this, you’d seek out Josh Hix as CEO, a repeat entrepreneur who most recently co-founded a consumer meal kit and delivery business; you’d get Mustafa Shabib as CTO, with his experience as an engineer in both world-class tech companies and pioneering care delivery startups; and you’d find a leadership team with experience delivering fresh groceries to consumers at nationwide scale, conducting complex sales to payors and providers, and caring for (and delivering measurable clinical impact to) patients with medically-driven nutritional needs.
So when we found this team in real life, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to lead their Series A. We’re excited to be backing Season Health to help every patient get access to healthy foods that are medically tailored, tasty, and affordable.