St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton & Baxter Partner to Employ Technology to Empower Dialysis Patients

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Dialysis patients living with chronic kidney disease face many challenges. In addition to the physical symptoms of the disease, further emotional strain and disruption in living patterns is caused by the need for ongoing treatment several times a week in a clinical hospital environment.

Studies reveal that many patients who currently dialyze in acute care hospitals are eligible for personal home-based or peritoneal dialysis (PD) systems. However, those same patients may lack the confidence and knowledge required to play such a leadership role in the management of their disease. Successful treatment with home-based or peritoneal dialysis depends in great degree on good training and proper education of patients and their caregivers.

St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is a regional centre for renal care and one of the busiest dialysis centres in South Central Ontario serving thousands of patients who rely on the hospital’s Kidney and Urinary program. While the vast majority of dialysis patients currently choose to receive their treatment in-hospital, St Joseph’s Strategic Plan, which is aligned with the provincial initiatives of the Ontario Renal Network, aims to increase the number of patients using home-based or peritoneal dialysis methods for those patients who qualify for at home care options. In addition to offering dialysis patients unprecedented flexibility, statistics show that home-based peritoneal dialysis may have significant psychosocial advantages, especially for younger patients and those who are employed or pursuing an education.

Currently, patients living with chronic kidney disease who are beginning to examine various treatment options are provided with handouts and booklets complemented by approximately five in-person meetings with a dialysis support worker or nurse. In an effort to further assist in the process of making patients better positioned to choose treatment options and confidently manage their own care, St. Joseph’s Hospital recently received a $250,000 commitment from Baxter Corporation, a leading manufacturer of products that save and sustain the lives of people with kidney disease and other chronic and acute medical conditions.

As more Canadians are turning to the Internet and using smart phone and tablet technologies for health information, Baxter and St. Joseph’s are planning to harness the power of these digital devices to help further educate and engage dialysis patients in the management of their own care. These digital tools have an incredible capacity to enable patients to interact with an ongoing authoritative resource and feel constantly connected in new and powerful ways.

In three phases, the program aptly named “Patient First” will focus on pre-dialysis education, peritoneal dialysis education, and self-management education. Through its subsequent program, “Pathways to Empowerment” Baxter will also support health coaching by dialysis nurses to help implement patient self-management into daily practice while aligning with the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario best practice guidelines.

Through an innovative Plan-Do-Study-Act methodology, Baxter and St. Joseph’s will also closely monitor and evaluate the impact of these new digital educational tools to ensure they are meeting the needs of patients and their care providers. Furthermore Baxter’s gift will augment St. Joe’s research into kidney home dialysis and allow the Hospital to develop new ground breaking digitally-enhanced education and patient training opportunities for both home and peritoneal dialysis patients.

Dr. Darin Treleaven, head of St. Joseph’s Nephrology Program is committed to the implementation and execution of this new program. “At St. Joe’s we’re not just interested in treating kidney disease. Through projects like “Patient First” we are delving into the management and prevention of disease and evaluating the tools we are using with our patients to better understand their needs, and the impact of the care we’re providing. It’s not just about enhancing care, it’s about research that informs the future of care as well,” he said.