Reflecting on Kidney Week 2015: Charting the Course Toward A More Holistic Approach to Patient Care

The Boundaries of Kidney Care Continue to Expand at ASN’s Annual Conference

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By Dr. Frank Maddux, Chief Medical Officer and Executive VP, Clinical and Scientific Affairs, FMCNA

The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney Week 2015 conference is like a vast sea of medical knowledge, with presentations, booths and research that cover nearly every aspect of renal science and clinical care. ASN Kidney Week provides a fulcrum for the national dialogue, influencing the work of health care companies, researchers and other organizations as well as generating energy and collaboration around particular topics.

Intriguing findings and thought-provoking discussions demonstrated the meaningful advances on the horizon in renal care and chronic illness management. The conference made clear that the paradigm of care is changing from a focus on procedure-driven renal replacement therapies to one that addresses improving the outcomes of the broader ecosystem of patients’ psychosocial needs and comorbid conditions. Fresenius Medical Care continues to play a major role in this evolution, having contributed to an industry leading 47 ASN-accepted abstracts at the 2015 conference.

I observed three areas that highlight this important shift: 1) a need for stronger collaboration between nephrology and cardiology care systems; 2) an emphasis on overall quality-of-life issues for patients with chronic illnesses, and; 3) new medications and therapeutic devices coming toward the market to advance renal care.

RENAL FAILURE AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Virtually all renal patients have some degree of cardiovascular disease, and therefore many discussions at the conference dealt with the need for the cardiovascular and nephrology communities to integrate patient care even more than they do now.

The matter is first and foremost one of physician collaboration. Nephrologists need to be more sensitive and sophisticated regarding the cardiovascular needs of their patients; conversely, cardiologists need to apply these traits in recognizing the distinct and specific needs of their renal patients.

The goal is a cardio-renal approach which fully addresses patient needs such as medication choices and disease progression sessions and treatments to minimize the risks associated with these all-too-common comorbidities

Considering total quality-of-life outcomes, and not just renal care outcomes, is critically important as we move forward.”

IMPROVING QUALITY OF LIFE

Another major topic discussed at the conference involved improving the overall quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses by focusing on their comprehensive physical, emotional and psychosocial needs.

Providers can become so focused on the treatment of end stage of renal disease that we can lose sight of concurrent factors, such as the development of cardiovascular complications, a decline in cognitive function and depression. Most models of care that we have today are episodic and event-based, but chronic care requires that we recognize the disorders that people have while mitigating the known collateral risks that people with these conditions face.

ASN Kidney Week

To do so, we need more contact and touch points with patients on a personalized basis. It’s incumbent on organizations like ours to help patients make life decisions that keep them healthier by avoiding known and expected risks from their chronic disorders. Because of that, chronic care management is a central goal of FMCNA; in fact, more than half of our abstracts at the conference focused beyond renal care to the myriad health issues that surround our patients.

IMPROVED MEDICATIONS, INNOVATIVE THERAPEUTIC DEVICES

Ongoing research into the pathophysiology of kidney disease and comorbid conditions is leading to important technological and medical developments and a brighter outlook for the future.

One of the more exciting evolving technologies is a new generation of home dialysis machines that are more user friendly, and expected in the marketplace in the next 18 months. These machines make it easier for patients and caregivers to transition dialysis into the home.

Novel pharmaceutical research has led to new compounds to better manage problems which many renal patients endure, such as fluid retention, anemia and unhealthy potassium levels. Controlling these areas can promote better overall health and reduce hospitalizations and serious complications of their diseases.

Findings from conferences such as ASN Kidney Week help refocus paradigms toward improved overall patient care. At FMCNA, we are reinvigorated as we continue our commitment to provide better health and quality of life for renal patients and those with chronic illnesses.