Out of the ten largest U.S. dialysis providers, Satellite Healthcare has the largest number of its dialysis patients using home therapies. In 2015, the company had more than 20% of its patients using home dialysis. In 2014, the total was almost 22%. Kay Deck, VP Home Therapies and Clinical Services at Satellite Healthcare, told NN&I how the provider achieved that number, and why home dialysis is important.
NN&I: Why do you think increasing home dialysis should be a priority for dialysis providers?
Kay Deck: We know that home dialysis allows patients to live their lives with dialysis; not having dialysis run their life. Studies show that patients actively involved in their health and care empowers patients and improves health outcomes. Additionally, the choice of home dialysis allows patients to use therapy options with increased frequency and time to achieve their best quality of life.
NN&I: CEO Rick Barnett told NN&I in February that he wants Satellite to significantly increase the use of home dialysis among its patients. What steps will Satellite take to increase its home dialysis population? Is there a specific goal in mind?
Deck: Satellite Healthcare’s strategic plan is to grow awareness and implementation of home and alternative therapies.
NN&I: Among the 10 largest providers, Satellite has consistently had the highest percentage of patients on home dialysis. What factors do you think contributed to this? What role did patient and physician education play?
Deck: Since our launch of Satellite WellBound home dialysis in 2002, we’ve built more than 20 dedicated home dialysis Centers of Excellence. Satellite was the first health care services company to focus on personalized self-care training for home dialysis patients, as well as on expert pre-dialysis patient wellness education. Our focus on training and education has contributed greatly to our patients’ outcomes, overall quality of life and choice in home modalities.
NN&I: Do you see any barriers to increasing home use? If so, how would you overcome them?
Deck: It’s all about education and patient choice. The patient, with their nephrologist, should choose the modality best for their lifestyle and health needs. An industry-wide barrier could be that education of all modalities, home and in-center, is not effectively provided. This presents an opportunity for Satellite WellBound, which offers free modality options classes to help patients make the choice that’s best for them, their family and with their care team.
NN&I: A recent report by economist Alex Brill highlighted ways Congress and federal regulators can remove barriers to home dialysis. Do you think reimbursement for home dialysis is adequate?
Deck: Satellite Healthcare supports many of the points made in Alex Brill’s report, especially the goal to improve patient education and awareness to facilitating certification of more facilities to provide home dialysis services.
The current structure of home dialysis training has been found to not fully cover the actual costs of training. This could be a potential barrier for some dialysis providers. Future improvement of the financial models that allow for the time and skill it takes to develop strong staff and patient success will enable home therapy to thrive in the United States.
NN&I: Do you think care partner requirements hinder home use in some regions?
Deck: The support of a friend or loved one as a care partner is vital to anyone needing specialized care, such as dialysis. When looking across the United States and in the regions where Satellite Healthcare provides care, we along with all providers, have to be aware of and flexible with the specific care partner requirements. We understand the needs and concerns of the government to ensure patient safety. However, our care is inclusive of the patient and the patient’s family. In order to humanize dialysis, Satellite Healthcare values the needs and goals of the whole patient. In many instances, a home dialysis patient’s family member is that key care partner. They are an integral player in the care team – along with the nephrologist and Satellite Healthcare’s multi-disciplinary team – who helps to make the best decision for the individual patient.