The Culture of Education in a Large Dialysis Organization: Informing Patient-Centered Decision Making on Treatment Options for Renal Replacement Therapy

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Challenged by the observation that newly admitted dialysis patients were often unaware of their treatment options, Fresenius Medical Care, North America developed a program to improve information delivered to chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients prior to their need for renal replacement therapy. Six years ago, the Treatment Options Program (TOPs) was established utilizing a standardized approach to educate individuals with CKD Stages 3 and 4. The program education focuses on modality and vascular access options. A key component includes follow-up at predetermined intervals, offering additional education and patient reminders to continue to work with their physician in selecting a preferred renal replacement modality. Since program inception, over 73,000 individuals have been educated through TOPs. Home therapy utilization as first treatment is higher in the patient population that received TOPs education. Similarly, participants had a higher rate of permanent vascular access with decreased use of hemodialysis catheters upon admission. Avoiding hemodialysis catheter use and expanding home therapy utilization both offer potential benefits to all stakeholders: patients, providers, and payors, particularly as we move toward accountable healthcare systems. The ability to expand the TOPs program relies on seeing patients early enough to allow each patient time to process the information and work with their physician to select the modality and access that best meets their healthcare and lifestyle needs. Educating our patients facilitates empowerment and active participation in their therapy, a much coveted component of patient-centered health care for the renal provider community as we look to the future.

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