Baxter ShareSource System: A New Dialysis Option for You

Chronic kidney disease is a quite underestimated subject by ordinary people. This issue is much more socially extended than many people believe, and, in fact, statistics suggest that one in every hundred people may be suffering from this terrible illness today. This problem is one of the main public health issues in several countries, not only because of its disastrous health consequences and because of its high frequency in the population, but because the treatments (dialysis, eminently) to respond to this issue are usually expensive. The main consequence when it comes to chronic kidney disease is that the patient must depend on a kidney transplant or a machine to survive in his or her remaining time of life.

The only option for thousands of people around the world is to sit or lay for three or four hours connected to a machine that removes toxins from the blood system. This is the only way to filter out a series of toxins as well as the excess of fluids in the body, which the kidneys eliminate in normal conditions. This is the normal life situation of millions of patients diagnosed with renal failure who cannot afford a kidney transplant, or who, although they can actually afford it, must wait for a donor for years. The process of dialysis, in any of its forms, must be carried out for life. The body has no vacations, after all.

This therapy has two modalities: hemodialysis, which can be performed three times a week in a health center, and peritoneal dialysis, which is done daily from the home of patients, four times a day. Each month, the specialist in charge of the process monitors the treatment and the condition of each patient and, if something is not going well, he or she makes the appropriate changes to improve the therapy.

Since the end of last year, a new technology allows doctors and patients to change that traditional way of doing dialysis (in any of both ways.) We are talking about the ShareSource platform of Baxter International, a system that automatically transmits (in real time) the data on what is happening with each patient throughout the dialysis therapy. This system not only saves time and money for patients, who no longer have to travel to hospitals or other places where their therapy is carried out, but doctors permanently know if one of their patients stopped using the dialysis system at home, as well as the frequency of use and if it is working properly.

Read also: Great Alternatives to Perform Dialysis at Home, by Joe Cosgrove

This technology for remote patient management was created to improve the patient’s treatment in peritoneal dialysis, in addition to significantly increase the efficiency of hospital centers. This bidirectional communication platform is based on the cloud and is incorporated into the automated peritoneal dialysis system. It not only offers physicians a more accurate and timely visibility of the compliance of the therapy by their home patients, which, in turn, allows the identification and early intervention of possible complications, but it also allows collecting important data that can be later become useful information for new researchers on chronic kidney disease. After all, this system monitors patients permanently. Perhaps, the most positive thing about this technology is the possibility of accessing the patient’s compliance data in time, and thus manage possible clinical complications in advance.

The most common drawbacks that usually occur with dialysis are problems with the catheter performance, which is the hose used for fluid exchange. This is the main cause that usually spoils dialysis treatments. When this kind of issues are identified, the doctor has the possibility of making a prescription to solve what is going wrong with the dialysis on time and avoid hospitalizations or other health complications that may be derived from a poorly carried therapy. This also means saving money to the health system since patients get sick much less.

This may be a good option for those patients who live in remote areas and who find it difficult to travel frequently to health centers to carry out their dialysis therapies or to be checked by their doctors. Actually, thanks to this intelligent system, it is possible to reduce the frequency of medical check-ups to one every two months. This gives patients much more freedom and saves doctors a lot of time.

Video: Connectivity Platform Provides Telemedicine Capabilities for Remote Patient Management

Actually, it is a simple platform to manage, that even works like any smartphone app. There is a main menu which shows a list of patients and what has happened during the last week of treatment with each one of them and generates alerts in case of trouble (if a patient skipped a dialysis session, if there was a problem with the connection, or if there were complications in the process of eliminating toxins, for example.)

Internet and Big Data technology has revolutionized all aspects of human life, including health. In this case, it has meant a great advance, which, in an intelligent and practical way, can help to improve the quality of life of patients, as well as the job of millions of doctors.

* Featured Image courtesy of EdTech Stanford University School of Medicine at Flickr.com

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How to avoid starting dialysis sooner than expected

Although Joe Cosgrove has previously mentioned that starting dialysis is not the end of the world—in fact, he addressed the topic from different points of view including one major concern: how can individuals and patients under dialysis get the most out of life once they start the treatment?—. Many people fear that they will have to quit their jobs, or that they will have to dramatically change their lifestyles. The truth is, the onset of dialysis can be delayed to some extent. And although it is very tough to be diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, if patients are diagnosed in the early stages of such condition, there certain steps and measures they can take to get the most out of their kidneys and prolong kidney function.

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Following a physician’s advice, it is possible to still enjoy a healthy life even with kidney disease. Following adequate and good health practices, staying on the job and continuing to enjoy other leisure activities and social events are ways an individual can overcome the apparent lack of control of their condition. Additionally, aside from following a physician’s advice in order to avoid starting dialysis sooner that expected, having a job with a solid health insurance helps provide security and other health benefits.

One thing is still certain: there are a plethora of causes that may cause chronic kidney disease; however, there is also a myriad of recommendations that, if followed properly, can help an individual delay kidney failure—which is what leads to dialysis and kidney transplant.

The two main causes of chronic kidney disease in North America and other western countries are diabetes and high blood pressure. These diseases have always been on the rise in the American country, which has also caused an increase in the number of patients who suffer from certain chronic kidney disease. The first step, of course, to control any type of CKD is by controlling the aforementioned conditions.

Diabetes and how to extend kidney function

People who suffer from diabetes need to mind their blood glucose levels. There is no shortcut. Blood glucose levels must be kept in an adequate range in accordance with physicians recommend. Additionally, hemoglobin A1C should be below 6.5%. And, of course, patients suffering from early stage chronic kidney disease need to have their kidneys tested at least once a year.

Research has shown that certain high blood pressure medicines are able to protect the kidneys of those who also suffer from diabetes, even they also have normal blood pressure levels.

The high blood pressure scenario

Individuals with high blood pressure—also known as hypertension—, should consult with their primary physician in order to get their blood pressure medicine. As recommended by the The National Heart and Blood Institute, it is recommended to have blood pressure under control (at 120/80 or even lower for those who have early stage kidney disease. For those who suffer from diabetes, blood pressure should be around 130/85.

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Other diseases commonly associated with chronic kidney disease

Aside from the previously mentioned diseases, there are several other conditions that can lead to suffering from chronic kidney disease: glomerulonephritis and lupus, for instance. These diseases affect the immune system, causing it to overact, which ends up affecting the kidneys (due to inflammation). In order to slow down the pace at which the kidneys deteriorate under these circumstances, a physician can prescribe certain medicines such as steroids.

Chronic kidney disease is also a direct consequence of certain infections and other medicines that happen to be detrimental to the organs. Infections, for instance, can be wiped out through the controlled used of antibiotics; certain medications, such as painkillers or antibiotics cause a negative impact on the kidneys: patients with these conditions need to be straightforward with their physicians about their CKD prior to initiating other treatments in hopes of avoiding a worse condition and prevent further damage.

Prolonging kidney function

Irrespective of how an individual develops chronic kidney disease, there are certain steps people can take in hopes of prolonging kidney function. Smoking, for example, is known for having a direct impact and correlation with the progression of kidney disease, therefore, and simply put, it is recommended that those with early stage kidney disease stop spending their money on cigarettes and tobacco. Of course, adopting a healthy diet, losing weight and working out are crucial activities that can act in the betterment of kidney condition. People with high blood pressure should also limit sodium in their diets: physicians believe that avoiding a certain amount of phosphorus and protein may also slow down the pace at which kidneys deteriorate; however, research continues on other foods—and even medicines—to see whether they act in the best interest of the health of the patient.

It is also important to remember that every CKD is unique. It is best to first address a physician and work out on a plan to prevent and slow down the disease while getting the most of life. It is perfectly possible.

Coming Back From Kidney Disease: Are You Ready to Work Again?

As per discussed in older posts by Joe Cosgrove, kidney disease, and renal failure, although imply a really hard time for patients, still leave room for them to get the most out of life. One of the biggest issues that concern the vast majority of renal failure and dialysis patients is whether or not they are able to work and perform their old labor duties.

As a matter of fact, many people with chronic kidney disease or renal failure manage to work either full time or part time. Moreover, some of them even go to school or are able to take care of their families and homes. Others prefer to perform volunteer work while still enjoying their hobbies: they go out with peers or even have regular workout and exercise routines. But since these types of conditions come with a heavy burden for those who suffer from them, it is no less than understandable to see patients wondering about whether or not they are ready to work.

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Here are some of the questions that patients ask the most about the possibility continuing to work while on treatment or suffering from any type of kidney disease:

I had a job prior to suffering kidney disease. Can I go back to work?

Most patients, especially those who start dialysis or undergo a transplant want to go back to work almost immediately. Some assert that it helps them feel like they are getting their lives back to what they consider normal, whereas others may take some time to recover from the fallout of the treatment or the post-operatory in case they underwent a kidney transplant surgery.

I am currently employed, can I just continue working while on treatment?

Some dialysis patients manage to work full time soon after they start the treatment. Others, due to the nagging consequences of the treatment, decide to rather take either a part-time or remote work. What seems to be clear, is that dialysis patients prefer to take jobs that are not as physically demanding as their older ones. In fact, working from home with a flexible schedule seems to be the best option, as patients are required to go to hemodialysis from time to time.

Whichever the case, patients should be able to talk to their employers about possible changes and conditions that can help them continue working while on treatment. And this is particularly important since employers likely ignore what kidney disease is about and its implications, therefore, addressing concerns about the job is perhaps the wisest thing to do.

As a matter of fact, doctors are often willing to talk to the patient’s employer to explain and address their condition. Employers will obviously have concerns about the possible limitations, which is why having the doctor address these concerns really come in handy.

Am I protected against labor discrimination?

There are several acts that protect people with some kind of disability from labor and job discrimination. Being fired or being denied a promotion due to some kind of condition or illness is entirely protected by the Civil Rights Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the American with Disabilities Act.

Employers often ask for medical certification stating that the patient indeed suffers from a specific condition, and cannot under any circumstances fire or force employees to resign simply because they require surgery or treatment.

How do I know if I am ready to work?

Of course, health should always be the patient’s top priority. Prior to recklessly going back to work—ignoring medical recommendations—, patients must decide whether they feel physically and mentally strong to take on their duties again. This process, of course, should always be accompanied by medical rehabilitation.

People with kidney disease or renal failure often go through the following rehabilitation process: first, they need to get themselves back to a much healthier physical overall state; second, they have got to convince themselves that, although they suffer from these diseases, there is still room for positivity; third, they need to start feeling confident and ok around peeps, coworkers and relatives; and fourth, they need to learn how to self-manage themselves to regain their productivity.

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As previously recommended, accompanying rehabilitation with physical activity is tremendously beneficial and will help patients achieve the aforementioned goals much easier. Volunteering and helping other go through the same process also provides a sense of productivity and will definitely help them gain back the skills that could unquestionably help them get a job in the future. The whole idea is to not let the disease impair the patient’s mental state, for, although these conditions imply difficult times, the spirit is everything. There is always another opportunity and there is always a chance to get the most out of life even while on dialysis or treatment: imagination and the will to live is key.