PlateJoy, a personalized meal-planning company that partners with grocery delivery service Instacart nationwide, launched an app last week called PlateJoy Health: Diabetes Prevention. According to CNBC, the new program augments PlateJoy's personalized recipe platform with weight tracking and virtual coaching so those with prediabetes can potentially avoid developing the Type 2 form of the disease.
Some Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plans cover PlateJoy's diabetes prevention system, as will Express Scripts, Dignity Health and Kroger as employers, so approximately 20 million people should be able to download the app for free, CNBC reported. Those who aren't covered can still get the system by paying for it themselves.
"So many big health-care companies approach these sorts of problems in an old-school, traditional sort of boring, sterile way, and what PlateJoy is trying to do is take a page from consumer brands we all know and love and apply it to health care," Christina Bognet, PlateJoy's co-founder and CEO, told CNBC.
In the latest evolution in the food-as-medicine movement, PlateJoy has augmented its specialized recipe planning service with this new health app. With insurance coverage, members get a free digital wireless scale connecting to the app, and then, after two weeks, they get a free FitBit integrated to the system. The insurance company reimburses PlateJoy for both of these, according to CNBC.
Without insurance, consumers can get the system by paying $89 for a three-month PlateJoy membership, or $119 for six months — but not the free scale or FitBit.
On the regular PlateJoy plan, members pay $59 for a six-month subscription during which PlateJoy makes menu recommendations tailored to the individual, along with cooking suggestions and tips from a personal nutritionist. PlateJoy has partnered with Instacart, which offers same-day delivery from dozens of grocery chains nationwide.
PlateJoy differs from meal kit subscriptions because members make up their own grocery lists from PlateJoy's recommendations and get their own groceries themselves or through an online order and delivery service. While some consumers may appreciate receiving their meal components in a box, others may like the option of having a personally tailored meal plan but prefer shopping for their own food — and perhaps finding better deals.
Grocery retailers and food manufacturers could benefit from meal planning programs by gaining new customers and allowing existing ones to more efficiently use their products and services. With PlateJoy, for example, retailers and food makers could target their low-sugar products both by labeling and by store signage — and via online messages on this new app — to appeal to those at risk of developing diabetes, obesity or any other diet-related problems.
Some retailers have responded to food-related health issues by adding staff dietitians and offering in-store clinics that can guide customers toward healthier offerings. Hy-Vee has been a leader in this area, while other grocers are evolving the model. Publix recently partnered with a Florida healthcare system to provide in-store "telehealth" rooms where customers can connect with off-site doctors and other treatment providers.
PlateJoy isn't the only meal-planning program out there. Dinner Daily is an online meal-planning service that will devise weekly menus based on where users like to shop. Dinner Daily launched nationwide last year and reportedly can be used at more than 10,000 supermarkets. It allows users to establish their dietary preferences, plus it will access some store ads and specials, thereby possibly saving users money. The service costs $48 per year, or $18 for three months.
Another service is EatLove, a personalized nutrition and meal planning program which recently partnered with AmazonFresh. Amazon has also announced arrangements with Allrecipes, Fexy Media and eMeals, and Walmart has developed an exclusive partnership with Buzzfeed Tasty, a huge food network jammed with video recipes.
PlateJoy is smart to differentiate itself by targeting a common health problem and finding a way to assist members through insurance coverage when possible. There are likely plenty of other issues where personalized meal planning can be helpful and link with grocery retailers and e-commerce ordering systems at the same time. Gluten sensitivity and obesity are two obvious ones, but high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis are other chronic health problems where dietary guidance has proved beneficial.