When my brother Michael was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, at age 40, he realized he had to make lifestyle changes to ensure he was around as long as possible for his young family. He must now be vigilant about taking medications that he knows won’t harm his kidneys, work to maintain a healthy weight, and monitor his blood pressure so that he can manage his disease and live a more fulfilled life.
Today, at Design Science, we are recognizing World Kidney Day(March 12) to raise awareness and understanding of the kidneys, their role in our health, and the impact of kidney disease and other associated health conditions. This year, World Kidney Day is focused on promoting kidney health for everyone everywhere, especially when it comes to highlighting the importance of prevention, detection, and equitable access to care.
1 in 10 people around the world have chronic kidney disease, an incurable condition that requires lifelong attention and management. These treatments include medications, dialysis, and kidney transplants, and when you consider all the caregivers who assist those with chronic kidney disease, this condition, as well as other forms of kidney disease, affects more people than it may appear on the surface.
At Design Science, we recognize the challenges faced by Michael and others who are living with kidney disease, as well as his wife, Lori, and the many other caregivers who assist loved ones with these conditions. We regularly partner with medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies to ensure the devices and products needed to manage this disease are safer and easier to use and will improve the quality of life for those living with kidney disease and caring for those with kidney disease. Some of those projects have included:
- Home and in-clinic hemodialysis (HD): By working with dialysis device manufacturers, healthcare professionals, and patients, we realize the drastic improvement in the quality of life for those able to perform their hemodialysis at home with 6 to 7 shorter treatments per week instead of 3 longer treatments per week in clinic. The shorter time between treatments at home can result in less drastic highs and lows (i.e., not feeling so well to feeling much better) and cut out the extra time required to commute to a dialysis center, not to mention the comfort of completing treatment in your own home. Some patients are even able to complete their hemodialysis while sleeping (like most peritoneal dialysis patients do).
- Home peritoneal dialysis (PD): While no patient is happy to be on dialysis, most patients we’ve interviewed find PD to be quite manageable. Peritoneal dialysis allows for two main options—continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) and continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD)—both of which are completed at home or on the go. CAPD using gravity rather than a machine and requires 3 to 5 fluid exchanges via a catheter in your abdomen throughout the day but you can do these exchanges in any clean environment so you can continue working or otherwise going about your day. CCPD is usually completed at night for 10 to 12 hours including while you are sleeping by attaching your catheter to an automated peritoneal dialysis (APD) machine. Most APDs are small enough to travel with allowing flexibility to continue with a “normal” life without the need to be close to a clinic. Most APD manufacturers will even ship the needed supplies (dialysate, tubing, etc.) to your travel destination so you only need to bring your APD.
- Insulin Titration Tools: For people with diabetes, every meal, snack, and beverage require a math problem to figure out how much insulin to take to balance out the carbs, and people with diabetes often have to remember to take long-acting insulin at regular intervals throughout the day. Calculating these doses correctly and remembering to take long-acting insulin at the correct time is crucial to living a healthy life with diabetes. Insulin titration tools, however, can make it easier for people with diabetes to calculate the appropriate insulin doses and give providers more insight into how effective patients’ prescriptions are. Patients who have come in for studies on these tools have overwhelmingly stated that these products will reduce some of the mental burden associated with living with a 24/7 condition, live a healthier life, and in turn, prevent some of the long-term complications of living with diabetes.
- Insulin Injections: When a patient with diabetes is trying to take their insulin medication at any time of day, either on the go or in their home, it’s important for them to know that they received the entire dose. We’ve had the opportunity to bring in these patients to evaluate new types of auto-injectors and insulin pens to see if they add value to their current regimen. Participants often mention that these added technologies such as integrating a mobile application, various feedback mechanisms (e.g., audible cues, visual lights or colors, or tactile feedback) provide them the reassurance that they are taking their medication as prescribed. We love being able to show patients that new technology is on the horizon that will truly integrate into their lifestyles.
- Emergency use glucagon: When someone is having a hypoglycemic event and unable to treat themselves (e.g., disoriented, unconscious, having seizures), it is critical to safely and effectively provide the glucagon either by injection or intranasal delivery as quickly as possible. Many of our team members have had to carry emergency use glucagon as coaches, caregivers, or friends of people with diabetes. We have also tested emergency use glucagon devices to make sure they can be used by the appropriate people—we’ve helped some of the devices on the market to become so intuitive that even untrained children are able to provide a dose of glucagon successfully.
In summary, any home treatment can improve the flexibility of a patient and caregiver to continue life closer to their normal routine. In-home treatment requires extreme vigilance in following detailed procedures to prevent potential infection and to make sure proper treatment is delivered.
For more information about World Kidney Day, visit their website: https://www.worldkidneyday.org/
If you or a loved one has a chronic kidney disease, we want to hear from you! You can sign up to participate in a study with us here: https://info.dscience.com/signup