Electronic Medical Record–Based Referrals to Community Nutritional Assistance for Food-Insecure Patients

Food insecurity, defined as the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life, has consistently been associated with poor health outcomes and higher health care costs. To address this issue, a food resource referral was integrated into Hennepin County Medical Center’s (HCMC) electronic medical record (EMR) at the hospital, outpatient clinics, and community primary care clinics. The referral order is auto-faxed to staff at a partner food bank, Second Harvest Heartland, and referred patients receive individualized, over-the-phone enrollment in nutrition programs and community food resources. This clinic-to-community linkage fits into clinicians’ workflow with minimal disruption, efficiently connecting patients to the hunger relief system.