Home » Kidney » Improving access to healthcare with technology
Kidney Health 2021

Improving access to healthcare with technology

iStock / Getty Images Plus / master1305

Dr Graham Lipkin

President, UK Kidney Association

Dr Sharlene Greenwood

President, UK Kidney Association

For years the kidney community has been developing, and working towards, the implementation of technology and tools that will benefit kidney patients and improve access and ease of care.

In response to COVID-19, many technologies for kidney care have been rapidly introduced as a necessity to allow health care to continue when physical contact was not possible. It is said that we have seen a progression in health technology that is equivalent to that achieved in 20 years, all in the space of a single year.

Out of adversity has come a real opportunity to use technology to address inequalities in health care provision across the UK.

Access to healthcare

The increased use of phone consultations and video conferencing software to conduct remote clinics has been vital to improving safety, quality and efficiency of kidney healthcare throughout the pandemic. For kidney patients receiving in-centre haemodialysis, the rapid uptake of video calls has allowed health care professionals across the country to work together to share experiences and discuss best approaches to their care and safety.

More patients are now using apps and online platforms to access results, prescriptions, care plans and wellbeing resources. Digital health platforms, like Kidney Beam, have helped people living with kidney disease take care of their physical and mental health during the pandemic by providing movement and activities to do in their own homes. This has been especially important for those shielding and has also offered renal rehabilitation to patients who never had routine access to this type of care prior to the pandemic.

However, technology may not work or be affordable for everyone. Therefore, it is important that while the kidney community continues to embrace these new tools, efforts are made to use robust methods to evaluate the accessibility, engagement and patient experiences with digital platforms to ensure equitable provision.

Out of adversity has come a real opportunity to use technology to address inequalities in health care provision across the UK.

Digital platforms

The Renal Association (RA) and British Renal Society (BRS) have been working closely with the patient charities to provide direct support and updates on COVID-19, disseminating these via many different channels throughout the kidney community.

Working together in this way meant we could implement changes faster and with more impact. Without the barriers associated with travelling to physical meetings, collaborating across multiple teams and enabling more patients to be involved directly in discussions was easier.

Over the past year, the use of technology has allowed the RA and BRS to work closer together and improve communication of important messages with less duplication and greater impact. This positive experience of joint action, and the success of many past collaborations, facilitated talks to combine the organisations into one – The UK Kidney Association (UKKA). The new organisation is designed to support the entire UK kidney community.


Next article