Nearly 70% of High-Risk Patients Unaware of Chronic Kidney Disease Risk, Study Finds –

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Nearly 70% of High-Risk Patients Unaware of Chronic Kidney Disease Risk, Study Finds

What You Should Know: 

– A new study by Phreesia and the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) reveals a troubling gap in awareness of chronic kidney disease (CKD) among high-risk patients. Published in The American Journal of Accountable Care, the research highlights the importance of patient-provider communication and patient activation in early detection and prevention of CKD, a leading cause of death in the United States.

– The research emphasizes the value of patient education and engagement in driving preventive healthcare behaviors. By prioritizing patient-provider communication and utilizing tools like the PAM®, healthcare professionals can empower patients to take charge of their health and reduce the burden of CKD.

The Silent Killer:

CKD, affecting an estimated 37 million Americans, often progresses undetected due to a lack of early symptoms. This study highlights that even years after diagnosis with diabetes or hypertension, many patients remain unaware of their CKD risk (43% with diabetes and 78% with hypertension after eight or more years).

Key Findings

  • Significant Awareness Gap: The month-long survey of over 4,400 patients with diabetes and/or hypertension (major CKD risk factors) found that two-thirds were unaware of their heightened risk. This lack of awareness was even more pronounced among less-engaged patients (low activation).
  • Patient Activation Makes a Difference: The study emphasizes patient activation, measured by the Patient Activation Measure® (PAM®), as a crucial factor. Highly-activated patients (those more involved in managing their health) were significantly more likely to have discussed kidney health with their providers compared to low-activation patients (70% vs 38% for diabetes and 51% vs 7% for hypertension).
  • Conversations Drive Preventive Behaviors: The research demonstrates a powerful link between patient activation, frequent provider discussions, and preventive actions. Highly-activated patients who spoke regularly with their providers were more likely to adopt healthy habits, such as monitoring salt intake, to protect their kidney health.
  • Focus on Older Adults: The study’s findings are particularly relevant for older adults, with the average participant age exceeding 58.

Bridging the Gap:

The research underscores the need for:

  • Strengthened Patient-Provider Communication: Encouraging open discussions about kidney health between patients and their providers is essential for early detection and intervention.
  • Boosting Patient Activation: Supporting patients in taking an active role in managing their health can significantly improve CKD awareness and preventive behaviors.
  • Targeted Interventions: Utilizing the PAM® to assess patient activation allows healthcare providers to tailor interventions based on individual needs.

“Given what we know about treatments that can prevent the progression of kidney disease, patients with diabetes and hypertension remain unaware, untested and untreated for CKD for way too long,” said Hilary Hatch, Chief Clinical Officer at Phreesia. “These results have huge implications for how to increase awareness, which in turn would speed up diagnosis and treatment. Phreesia is well-positioned to do this because we can deliver personalized messages to patients at the point of care, prompting conversations with providers and supporting patients to take a more active role in adopting behaviors to manage their kidney health.”

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