Dialysis from the comfort of home can be extremely beneficial. However, patients often feel disconnected from their care team and so choose a clinical setting instead. Dr. Arsh Jain, a scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute, has been awarded $1.5 million over three years to improve the patient experience of in-home dialysis using eHealth technology.
Dr. Jain’s research is being funded through the eHealth Innovations Partnership Program (eHIPP). A Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) initiative, eHIPP promotes collaborations between health care communities and industry partners to create eHealth solutions that improve patient care.
Dr. Jain’s study will use a tele-home monitoring system for patients on peritoneal (in-home) dialysis. Dialysis is the daily process used to remove waste from the blood when failing kidneys can no longer do so. Participants in the study will be given a mobile tablet with an application that tracks vital information on a daily basis, including weight, blood pressure and fluid amounts. This information will be transmitted instantly to the patient’s care team and will notify them of any problems. This is a significant improvement as in-home dialysis patients currently log their treatments manually, using a pen and paper, and often forget to bring the information to appointments.
“Patients on in-home dialysis are not required to visit a clinic or hospital every day, and so experience more freedom,” said Dr. Jain. “The main reason patients leave in-home dialysis is because they feel isolated from their care team. With this new technology, patients and health professionals will be connected on a daily basis.”
Health professionals will monitor the connection to help patients make proactive care decisions as they are needed, rather than intervening at monthly appointments or, worse, when problems arise. The technology will also help patients manage their equipment inventory, deliver important notifications from the patient’s care team and integrate two-way video and photo messaging.
The goal of the Dr. Jain’s three-year study is to reduce hospitalizations, infection rates and patient transfers from in-home dialysis to dialysis in a clinical setting. “This solution has the potential to improve the patient experience and create health system savings,” said Dr. Jain. “In-home dialysis is significantly less expensive than dialysis in a clinical setting. If we can improve the experience and comfort of these patients, it will have a big impact.”
Half of Dr. Jain’s funding (approximately $750,000) will come from CIHR while the other half (approximately $750,000) will come from his eHIPP partners: Baxter CEC (peer-reviewed grant), the Ontario Telemedicine Network with Canada Health Infoway (OTN/CHI), Ontario Centres for Excellence (OCE) and the Ontario Renal Network (ORN).