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An integrated approach to continuum of care for renal dialysis patients

Supporting chronic kidney patients holistically. As the world marks World Kidney Day on 14 March, it's evident that managing kidney disease requires a comprehensive approach, ensuring top-quality care at every step of the patient's journey.

This holistic approach involves everything from preventive behaviours, to raising awareness about risk factors, to helping those with kidney disease to live with their condition.

Thanks to advances in renal science, patients who develop chronic kidney disease can still live fulfilling lives. In addition, as healthcare providers expand the number of kidney dialysis facilities, this lifesaving treatment becomes more accessible to a wider number of patients.

On the onset of kidney disease, the kidneys falter in their vital functions of filtering waste, maintaining fluid balance, and regulating blood pressure. Toxins accumulating in the bloodstream can lead to severe health complications and life-threatening conditions. Dialysis treatment becomes crucial, eliminating toxins and excess fluids from the blood, enabling patients to regain a semblance of normalcy in their lives, alleviating symptoms like nausea, muscle cramps, and swelling.

Access to dialysis treatment is a lifesaving resource for those suffering kidney disease. Haemodialysis treatments are usually scheduled three times a week, for a duration of three-four hours per session and is on-going throughout a patient’s life.

The treatment has significant physical and psychological impact on patients’ lives. Therefore, best practice for holistic kidney treatment must also involve a well-trained team of professionals to support the patient on their treatment journey and ensure continuity of care.

Life Healthcare is committed to transforming renal care. The Company’s renal integrated care pathway programme prioritises the patient, offering a multidisciplinary approach tailored to individual needs, ensuring a personalized and effective renal care experience.

“While the integrated initiative is still not fully rolled out across all Life Renal Dialysis units the aim is to have this standardised programme available for all Life Healthcare’s kidney dialysis patients,” says Dr Noeleen Phillipson, National Manager, Life Renal Dialysis.

An important aspect to the continuum of care includes patient education. “This provides valuable insights into managing kidney health. These resources will assist in empowering patients with knowledge and practical tips for a better quality of life,” she said. 

The programme also includes quality of life assessments where patients complete periodic health-related surveys. “This enables us to refine and improve our services based on valuable patient feedback,” added Phillipson. 

One of the very successful aspects of the integrated approach is the inclusion of care co-ordinators who provide guidance and ensure patients get all the support they need, not just on an emotional level.

“The care co-ordinator relationship is based on an understanding that patients living with chronic kidney disease require more than just dialysis treatment,” says explains Moses Habimana, Regional Manager: Care Coordination, Life Healthcare. “Our co-ordinators create a collective understanding between the patient and the teams of clinicians involved in their care.”

Where fully integrated the programme has had a positive response. Patients enrolled in the programme say it has given them a better understanding of their condition, and their treatment, and it makes them feel they’re not alone on their dialysis journey. “My care coordinator has helped me understand my renal journey and made it seem far less overwhelming,” says one patient. “My care co-ordinator has really helped me, especially with my wound care journey,” says another patient. “My kidney condition affected my circulation, and my foot almost had gangrene. But she referred me to the wound clinic and now my foot has healed completely.”

Life Healthcare’s integrated renal care pathway reflects the Company’s dedication to value-based care, eliminating fragmentation and providing patients with a clear understanding of their journey. “With defined points of interaction and transparent cost information, we ensure a seamless care experience," added Phillipson.

Managing chronic kidney disease is no small feat. "Our approach involves comprehensive disease management programmes, multidisciplinary healthcare teams, and leveraging data and technology," highlights Habimana.

About Life Renal Dialysis

Life Healthcare’s renal dialysis footprint expands from 31 Life Renal Dialysis facilities in South Africa to 72 across six South African provinces (includes one in Botswana) as of 1 April 2024. This is as a result of a recent acquisition and creates a comprehensive renal dialysis network across the country. We assist patients in renal failure who require outpatient-based chronic renal dialysis or home-based peritoneal dialysis; or acute renal dialysis in hospital. Life Renal Dialysis encourages and emphasises the importance of education about the harmful consequences of obesity and its association with kidney disease, as well as early detection and a healthy lifestyle, to increase awareness and prevent kidney disease.

For more information about renal dialysis services and Life Renal Dialysis click here.