Mount Sinai Health System and Epicured Partner to Bring Culinary Cures to Patients
Third-Round Investment by Mount Sinai Ventures in Online Meal Delivery Service Start-Up Heralds the Growing Benefits of “Food as Medicine”
Mount Sinai Health System is strengthening its partnership with Epicured, the meal delivery service startup, through a third round of funding by the Dr. Henry D. Janowitz Division of Gastroenterology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and by Mount Sinai Ventures, the investment arm of the Health System. Epicured is the first meal delivery service in the United States offering a low-FODMAP[i] and gluten-free menu tailored to aid patients in managing digestive diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
An estimated 20 to 30 percent of the U.S. population struggles with one of these illnesses, all of which can be managed through diet. Mount Sinai is a leader in gastroenterology care and an innovator in population health. Mount Sinai doctors and dietitians are “prescribing” Epicured’s gourmet-quality food, formally weaving the meal delivery service into patient treatment plans. The large market potential and clinical value of the low-FODMAP diet are the primary drivers for the investment.
“The low-FODMAP diet is a valuable approach for many people, especially those with gastrointestinal symptoms; however, it can be hard to follow,” says Bruce Sands, MD, Chief of Gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Health System. “Having a service like Epicured is a great way for patients to stick to that diet since it is both convenient and consistently tasty.”
“We’re very excited about the immediate impact Epicured can have on our patients and families,” says Brent Stackhouse, Managing Director and Vice President, Mount Sinai Ventures. “We see a lot of investment in the ‘food as medicine’ movement. Epicured is a great addition to our portfolio and demonstrates our commitment to innovative solutions in population health and investment opportunities that move the mission of the Mount Sinai Health System forward.”
Epicured stands apart in the fast-growing meal delivery sector, with a clinical approach to menu development and a culinary team that boasts Michelin-star credentials. As the startup serves more clients with a clinical motivation to order, it is enjoying consistent growth in customer lifetime value (28 percent in Q2) and excellent customer retention (4 percent cancellation rate in June 2018). “Our mission is to make truly phenomenal food that also helps you manage your illness in ways that are evidence-based and supported by your doctor,” says Richard Bennett, CEO of Epicured.
This “food as medicine” approach is having immense quality-of-life impacts on patients who struggle daily to enjoy what they eat. Andrea Lian, a Mount Sinai patient, relies on Epicured meals to manage her gastroparesis, a condition of the stomach that impairs the muscular contractions that move food through the digestive tract. Her condition requires constant vigilance to ensure that her meals are both nutritious and easily digested. “When my husband and I have Epicured dinners, we eat in the dining room with candles and make it a special meal. It is such a relief to have found great-tasting food that I can finally eat,” she says.
Beyond taking an equity stake in Epicured, Mount Sinai lends its clinical expertise to Epicured’s menu creation and program development. Laura Manning, MPH, RD, CDN, Clinical Nutrition Coordinator at the Susan and Leonard Feinstein Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical Center, has developed specific criteria for Epicured menu items tailored to patients experiencing flares from Crohn’s disease and colitis. Ms. Manning will occupy a seat on Epicured’s “Food as Medicine” council. “When I talk about Epicured, I focus most on the quality,” Ms. Manning says. “It embodies everything I want for our patients.”
Collaborative plans for 2019 include research initiatives with Mount Sinai’s Department of Medicine and healthy eating campaigns targeted to the Health System’s 38,000 employees. The campaign includes pop-up cafes, cooking demonstrations with Epicured chefs, and a staff discount on all deliveries. Jane Maksoud, RN, MPA, Chief Human Resources Officer, Mount Sinai Health System, says, “As a customer, I can attest to the role Epicured has had in augmenting my quality of life. The food is fantastic and the delivery service makes it easy to stick to a diet plan that ultimately makes me a healthier, happier individual. Services like Epicured have the power to change lives.”
[i] “The Low FODMAP diet is a very helpful way of using food to manage symptoms related to illnesses,” says Laura Manning MPH, RD, CDN, Clinical Nutrition Coordinator at Mount Sinai’s Susan and Leonard Feinstein Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical Center. “By minimizing certain hard-to-digest, short-chain carbohydrates hiding in everyday foods, patients have reduced bloating, inflammation, gas, diarrhea, and other common symptoms.”
Epicured is a healthcare company that knows food is medicine. As the only low FODMAP and gluten-free meal delivery service, Epicured gives customers an easy way to eat healthy, heal, and feel great, offering delicious meals that are prescribed by doctors and dietitians, and prepared by Michelin-star chefs. The diverse, seasonal menu is designed to restore digestive health, and is clinically recommended for IBS, Crohn’s, Colitis, SIBO celiac, and non-celiac gluten-sensitivity. The gourmet-quality meals are crafted by a world-class culinary team. Meals are always prepared fresh with natural ingredients and then delivered ready-to-heat and enjoy. There is no cooking required! Delivery is available from Boston to DC and everywhere in between with national expansion plans on the horizon. Epicured was founded in 2016 by Richard Bennett, healthcare and banking entrepreneur, who serves as CEO, and by Renee Cherkezian, RN, a nurse-turned-chef who guides menu development.
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About Mount Sinai Ventures
About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest academic medical system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai is a national and international source of unrivaled education, translational research and discovery, and collaborative clinical leadership ensuring that we deliver the highest quality care—from prevention to treatment of the most serious and complex human diseases. The Health System includes more than 7,200 physicians and features a robust and continually expanding network of multispecialty services, including more than 400 ambulatory practice locations throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of the Top 20 Best Hospitals in the country and the Icahn School of Medicine as one of the Top 20 Best Medical Schools in country. Mount Sinai Health System hospitals are consistently ranked regionally by specialty and our physicians in the top 1% of all physicians nationally by U.S. News & World Report.