Chronic Kidney Disease in the United States

A Public Policy Imperative

Published in: Clinical journal of the American Society of Nephrology, v. 3, no. 6, Nov. 1, 2008, p. [1902]-1910

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2007

by Richard A. Rettig, Keith C. Norris, Allen R. Nissenson

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In the past decade, a crisis in nephrology has slowly emerged in the areas of both clinical care and public policy. In 2003, the Council of American Kidney Societies (CAKS) identified 19 barriers to improved patient outcomes in chronic kidney disease (CKD). DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS, & MEASUREMENTS: Site visits and in-depth telephone interviews were conducted with 15 nephrologists focusing on current issues with identifying and treating patients with CKD. The qualitative analyses were considered in the context of CAKS-identified barriers to assess the present state of nephrology care and provide a foundation for a more detailed quantitative CKD project potential implications for advancing nephrology-related health policy. RESULTS: Despite new evidence-based therapies to slow, stop, or reverse the progression of CKD to ESRD as well as premature cardiovascular disease, major systemic barriers continue to limit the implementation of this body of evidence at the level of the nephrology practice. Key factors include under- or uninsurance, unstructured medical care systems, and lack of enabling public policies. CONCLUSIONS: The crisis of nephrology is embedded within the unresolved duress of the ability to provide quality early intervention juxtaposed upon inadequate reimbursement for clinical care and procedures, unfunded mandates for information technology systems, and organizational inconsistencies between nephrology and other specialties. We believe now is the time for the renal community and related stakeholders to unite in an effort to address the clinical, financial, and public policy issues that will enable the delivery of appropriate CKD care to this vulnerable patient population.

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