Newswise — (NEW YORK – January 10, 2019) 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 the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest integrated delivery system encompassing (with the addition of South Nassau Communities Hospital) eight hospital campuses, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools", aligned with a U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 18 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, and Neurology/Neurosurgery, and in the top 50 in six other specialties in the 2018-2019 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmology and 44th for Ear, Nose, and Throat. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, Mount Sinai West, and South Nassau Communities Hospital are ranked regionally.
About Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (MSIP)
MSIP is responsible for driving the real-world application and commercialization of Mount Sinai discoveries and inventions, and the development of research partnerships with industry. Our aim is to translate discoveries and inventions into health care products and services that benefit patients and society. MSIP is accountable for the full spectrum of commercialization activities required to bring Mount Sinai inventions to life. These activities include evaluating, patenting, marketing and licensing new technologies building research, collaborations and partnerships with commercial and nonprofit entities, material transfer and confidentiality, coaching innovators to advance commercially-relevant translational discoveries, and actively fostering an ecosystem of entrepreneurship within the Mount Sinai research and health system communities. For more information, visit www.ip.mountsinai.org.
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