Chronic diseases are at an all-time high and are plaguing the U.S. 60% of adults are living with chronic illness, and life expectancy, as a result, is dropping nationally.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is one of many chronic illnesses that poses a significant threat to public health. About 37 million people in the United States have the condition, and 1 in 3 Americans living with Diabetes are likely to develop CKD. CKD costs Medicare over $130 billion dollars every year—nearly a quarter of all Medicare spending.
There are several reasons contributing to these poor health outcomes, such as a lack of health equity and awareness around these diseases, and disjointed public health strategies.
In response to these significant disparities in CKD management, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) has outlined several key objectives to address these issues, including removing racial and ethnic barriers, enhancing diagnosis and treatment of CKD to prevent progression to kidney failure, and lowering the financial burden individuals with kidney conditions face.
Here is how these critical suggestions can come to life to improve the overall health of the U.S. and reduce chronic diseases, like CKD.
Evolve Diagnostic Modalities
Clinical recommendations state that Americans at-risk of CKD should be tested yearly by two complementary tests: the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR). eGFR and ACR are integral to providing indications of CKD at different stages of the disease.
Adherence to the ACR test has been consistently low for decades. Unlike eGFR, which is measured as part of a routine blood test, ACR, a urine test that can importantly identify CKD in earlier stages, is performed significantly less.
With clinical guidelines recommending ACR testing for at-risk populations, there is an urgent need to close the adherence gap and enable better solutions, potentially saving millions of lives and billions in healthcare expenditures.
Dismantle Health Disparities through Data and Collaboration
As reported by the National Kidney Foundation, Black Americans are almost four times more likely and Latinos are 1.3 times more likely to have kidney failure compared to White Americans. Additionally, 60 million Americans live in rural areas where access to healthcare may be low, and rates of mortality and chronic conditions are markedly higher. These populations suffer greatly from a lack of access and health literacy.
Data and digital innovation can help bridge this divide by outlining specific actions, uncover implicit biases and outline a path forward for caregivers.
Power Health Equity through At-Home Testing
Smartphone powered, at-home testing for CKD provides a tangible and scalable solution to this problem offering many benefits, including convenience and accessibility, alongside ease of use. By enabling members to test at home and receive immediate results health plans can increase at scale the compliance rates of previously untested populations.
Minuteful Kidney is a uACR test that is conducted using a smartphone app. The service is compatible with most smartphones and operating systems, making it accessible to virtually anyone with a smartphone.
Today, tens of thousands of health plan members have already used Minuteful Kidney to home test for CKD, improving adherence rates - with 50% test completion and 84% of patients returning to care following a diagnosis.
Expanding Access and Coverage
Further collaboration across the healthcare ecosystem with providers, payors and policymakers can ensure access to new innovations. The key to mitigating the kidney disease crisis in the U.S. is to improve early detection. Together, we can broaden awareness, and enable people at risk to overcome barriers to care – on a national scale.