Recognizing the Value of At-Home Treatment Options
The pandemic has drastically changed the need for at-home care, forcing it to rapidly evolve to fill gaps that couldn’t be met by an overwhelmed hospital system. It also created opportunities for caregivers and patients to explore ways that at-home treatment options can keep the most vulnerable patients comfortable and safe while alleviating stress on our healthcare system.
The global health workforce crisis is growing, and with an aging population and an escalating labour shortage in Canadian healthcare, demand is rapidly outweighing the supply of available caregivers. This is where medical innovation like remote patient management (RPM) can truly make a difference; one key example is with home peritoneal dialysis (PD) treatments.
Since the onset of the pandemic, kidney patients—who have immune dysfunction and comorbidities—have been and remain at heightened risk of viral infections. Considering their increased levels of vulnerability, home dialysis is a vital option for these patients to reduce risk of infection from being in public settings. Since 2011, the number of people living with end‐stage kidney disease in Canada has grown 31%, while the proportion of patients starting renal replacement therapy with dialysis at home has grown by 33%.1 2 As a result, it is of utmost importance to provide the at-home support these patients need. RPM systems can also reduce pressure on Canada’s healthcare system, helping healthcare providers do more with less by saving resources and time.
Why at-home care is important for kidney dialysis patients
Hope truly starts at home by enabling millions of people living with kidney disease to experience normalcy, relationships, routines, and activities that empower them to manage their condition on their terms and in the privacy of their own home. In recent studies, digital RPM solutions showed multiple benefits to patients with chronic diseases compared to patients receiving standard care. More than 52,000 Canadians are being treated for kidney failure of which 57% are on dialysis.3 As an immunocompromised population, it is essential for dialysis patients to have access to at-home treatment options and get the treatment they require when and where they need it, and digital solutions in home care can significantly reduce hospitalization events - 39% reduction in hospitalization rates and 54% reduction in duration of stay per patient.4
For healthcare providers in this space, creating an ongoing connection with the patient can be crucial. One study has shown a 55% reduction in patient dropout rate while using widely adopted digital health platforms for RPM, 5 showing a significant advantage in granting healthcare professionals an ongoing connection to at home dialysis patients, while also empowering patients to receive treatment at home, where they are most comfortable. Along with ensuring patient contact with loved ones during treatment, remote patient management can reduce emotional distress and restore hope by putting patients back in control of their condition.
Why at-home healthcare is key to alleviating healthcare system burdens
Remote patient management supports the healthcare system by decreasing hospitalizations, visits, risks, and financial burdens. By providing daily treatment data and analytics it allows healthcare practitioners to do more with existing resources, while keeping patients safe remotely. Studies indicate RPM increased proactive care time by 32% where initial observation showed that only 2% of nursing time went into proactive tasks.6 With the annual cost per patient undergoing peritoneal dialysis at home being approximately $25,556 7 less than patients receiving dialysis at a facility, it is a more cost-effective solution for our healthcare system.
Considering today’s growing healthcare challenges, patients and professionals are seeing the value of integrating at-home care into their treatment plans, helping to keep patients safe and reducing pressure on an overburdened system.