Texas Tech University

3 CulinaryMed Docs is Cooking Up an Innovative Approach to Medical Care

Kathryn Dankesreiter, Innovation Hub Team

February 21, 2022

Three entrepreneurs come together to bridge the gap between healthcare providers and patients managing chronic disease!

What do you get when you mix a nutritional scientist, a clinical dietitian, and a hospitality specialist? You get three entrepreneurs making an impact one meal at a time. 

Allison Childress, Shannon Galyean, and Michelle Alcorn are teaming up to develop an app “equipped with machine learning that will customize recipes, meal plans and nutrition education for each person to help them manage their chronic disease nutritionally.” 3 CulinaryMed Docs utilizes culinary medicine, a discipline that helps people manage disease by combining food preparation with the science of medicine, and delivers it directly to the patient. 

“Our program eCulinaryMed Rx is an electronic platform consisting of culinary medicine videos for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and more,” shares Allison Childress, Assistant Professor and Clinical Dietitian at Texas Tech.

Cooking Up Something New

After visiting the Office of Research Commercialization and evaluating the high commercial potential of 3 CulinaryMed Docs, their team was referred to the Innovation Hub. 

“I am a clinician, not a businessperson, but the people and resources at the Hub have enabled me to get a solid foundation to build our business,” states Allison.

The team applied to NSF I-Corps and iLaunch to kickstart their idea and gain customer insight. Through the Hub's programs and mentorship, Allison explains that their team and idea have been able to “pivot” to meet the industry's needs. 

“I think so many people who are brave enough to create a startup think that they know exactly what their customer wants and are more or less ‘married' to their product. But we have been able to pivot and create an even better product by following the guidance of the people and programs at the Hub.”

Armed with the experience from customer discovery and the award from the Prototype Fund, 3 CulinaryMed Docs marches forward to develop their app and produce their educational videos. “We should begin the discovery process with our web app developers in the next week or so and have a prototype by the end of April!”

Stirring Up the Industry

Culinary medicine has a limited scope of use in and out of the education system. Physicians and medical students are usually given a “crash course” on the subject and in practice it's difficult to educate patients on culinary medicine within the clinical environment. 

3 CulinaryMed Docs changes that by making an app that's easily accessible to millions of potential patients. The interface would be equipped with dietary restrictions based on the patient's specific needs regarding their chronic illness that both the patient and their doctor could determine. Once the details are entered, patients receive meal instructions and educational videos to give them the nutritional value they need. 

“The app is a wellness program as well but is specifically for the nutritional management of chronic disease. There is not another product on the market like eCulinaryMed Rx!”

Like the wellness plans that are already provided through health insurance plans, 3 CulinaryMed Docs hopes to target insurance providers. “The idea is that they would provide our product free of charge to their subscribers in order to improve health outcomes and save money on healthcare and treatment of chronic disease.”

Entrepreneurship's Key Ingredients 

In November 2021, Allison's three children watched then cheered when 3 CulinaryMed Docs received the People's Choice Award. “I have to admit that the day of the iLaunch competition was one of the best days of my life. I have always modeled to my kids that they can do anything, at any time and at any age. This was solid proof that it is possible.”

When asked what valuable insight she's received through her experiences at the Hub, Allison stated that “Anyone can be an entrepreneur. But to be a successful entrepreneur you need support, guidance, and you need to be coachable.”