It’s no secret that the healthcare industry has been facing severe staffing challenges in recent years. Unfortunately, dialysis centers have been hit especially hard, and are struggling with an ongoing shortage of qualified nurses and technicians needed to run the centers and manage the patient’s dialysis needs, leaving end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients at risk.
An April 2023 article1 published by Healthleaders Media quotes Robert Provenzano, MD, a nephrologist at Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit, who said, “During COVID, the dialysis nurses faced a major challenge, not only from all the masking and personal protective equipment but also from a very high acuity rate. In other words, their patients were very sick, and they started dying in very large numbers. So, the nurses who were both emotionally and physically overwhelmed just went elsewhere.” Long hours and stressful conditions have also contributed to the shortage of dialysis technicians.
The dialysis staffing situation is exacerbating the staffing crisis in hospitals,2 as well. According to the National Kidney Foundation,3 “Patients new to dialysis have been delayed in being discharged from the hospital where they started dialysis because there is not a dialysis center with the staffing to accommodate them.” This puts additional burdens on the already-overworked hospital staff.
At Healthmap Solutions, we believe a widespread move to in-home dialysis will help solve the issue of dialysis center staffing. Healthmap strongly advocates home dialysis as a better option for many patients, as outlined in our Guide to Home Dialysis.4 While some patients will still prefer to have their treatment performed in a center, greater acceptance of home dialysis can certainly help ease the strain on dialysis centers and hospital staff.
Further, by participating in Healthmap’s Kidney Health Management program, providers can expect to see a significant reduction in their overall administrative burden. Our provider support team functions as an extension of a provider’s office, helping to coordinate updates at the patient level as needed. In addition to providing insights on high-risk patients, open care gaps, and care transitions, Healthmap’s provider support team also notifies providers when we identify opportunities to improve appropriate coding and documentation.
Part of Healthmap’s goal as a kidney population health management company is to reduce the number of unnecessary emergency department visits, hospital admissions, and readmissions for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and ESRD. Reducing preventable admissions can certainly help alleviate the hospital staffing problem. Of the over 37 million individuals in the United States with CKD, nine out of ten don’t know they have it. That represents a sizeable number of people who could find themselves with an ER visit or hospital admission, especially those who go undiagnosed and untreated until they “crash” into dialysis.
Early identification and effective monitoring and managing of kidney disease are necessary in order to slow the progression of CKD and avoid the need for unplanned and high-cost services and renal replacement therapy. This is what Healthmap’s Kidney Health Management strategy is all about. To learn more about our program, check out the Issue Brief, Value-based Kidney Care: It Starts Early.5
We Are Passionate about better kidney health. We Are Healthmap!