Congress, the administration, and kidney care community must further improve care for 30 million Americans
March 18, 2019
March is National Kidney Month, a perfect time to reflect on the progress made in kidney care and efforts to advance that success to the next level. The challenge facing individuals with kidney diseases requires a united effort from Congress, the Administration, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the kidney care community. Fortunately, the collective commitment and momentum are in place, and now is the time to seize on this opportunity to maintain this forward trajectory.
More than a decade ago, the kidney care community set an ambitious goal to improve patient care outcomes and reduce health care costs. We have made significant strides in advancing kidney health with numerous multi-disciplinary work groups consisting of clinicians, providers, patient groups, researchers and manufacturers working together to: develop performance measures for accountability and endorsement through the National Quality Forum process; undertake a successful initiative to improve survival in the first year of dialysis; establish a strategic “quality blueprint” that identifies the leverage points for quality improvement; and publish a framework for considering patient reported outcomes (PROs) in this vulnerable population. All of these initiatives challenged us as a community while we worked constructively with policymakers on meaningful programs and policies that advance us toward the common goal of higher quality care and quality of life for patients with kidney diseases.
Now, a new analysis by Discern Health, which examined data from the government’s United States Renal Data System (USRDS), confirms that patient outcomes have significantly improved during the past decade. All-cause dialysis mortality rates have fallen, as have hospital admission rates for individuals who rely on dialysis care for long-term care needs or while they await a kidney transplant. In fact, gains in survival rates among this population now outpace those for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many other serious chronic diseases. Incredibly, the gains in kidney care come even as some chronic diseases saw worsening mortality – heart failure and myocardial infarction among them.