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Nephrocare: Improving Care for Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease affects about 37 million Americans, and it’s the 9th leading cause of death in the country. Managing this serious health condition requires ongoing care and long-term cooperation between patients and their healthcare teams. NephroCare is a comprehensive software system from Fresenius Medical Care that makes it easy for both patients and their doctors to share information, track progress, and get support at all stages of care from home to hospital. The free NephroCare My Companion app connects patients to their provider’s NephroCare portal, with tools for managing care from home and living better with chronic kidney disease.
The Challenges of Chronic Kidney Disease
The US-based National Kidney Foundation estimates that one in seven US adults may suffer from chronic kidney disease, a serious condition that compromises the body’s ability to filter toxins from the bloodstream. When the kidneys begin to fail, waste builds up in the bloodstream, creating an array of symptoms including fatigue, weight loss, and swelling in the hands and feet.
Chronic kidney disease is usually caused by other health conditions that stress the kidneys. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, strains blood vessels in the kidneys. Diabetes can also damage the kidneys, and so can high cholesterol, kidney infections, and certain medications. Some people have an inherited condition called polycystic kidney disease, which causes growths to develop in the kidneys.
Chronic kidney disease can progress to kidney failure, which can require dialysis to help remove waste products and toxins from the blood. At every stage, chronic kidney disease requires ongoing monitoring and treatment to manage underlying conditions and support kidney functioning.
Even for patients who don’t need to undergo dialysis, that can mean frequent doctor visits and regular at-home monitoring of metrics like blood pressure and glucose levels. NephroCare by Fresenius Medical Care provides tools for both practitioners and patients to track and monitor progress for better outcomes, and the free NephroCare app provides at-home support and round-the-clock connection with a patient’s healthcare team.
The NephroCare System and App
The NephroCare renal care system is owned and distributed by Fresenius Medical Care, a network of kidney care and dialysis providers. For physicians, dialysis professionals, and others involved in a patient’s care, the NephroCare software provides an easy-to-use system for managing and reporting patient data, which can then be shared whenever needed among members of the patient’s care team.
When the NephroCare portal is installed on clinic computers and mobile devices, healthcare professionals can enter all data on treatments, medications, and dialysis and update it as needed to provide a real-time assessment of the patient’s condition and treatment plan. When providers are connected to the NephroCare portal, they can access patient information immediately from any device, which can help to make immediate treatment decisions and respond to emergencies.
NephroCare My Companion, NephroCare’s app for patients, is available free for Android and iOS from leading app stores including the Apple Store and Google Play. But it isn’t available in all areas, and it doesn’t work separately from the NephroCare provider portal. To use the app, patients need to be receiving care from a doctor or clinic that uses the NephroCare platform. The provider will issue a token that unlocks the app and retrieves the patient’s account from the main NephroCare platform.
Once the app is installed and activated, users can record a variety of health metrics at home and share them with their healthcare team at any time. The NephroCare My Companion app can also remind patients to take their medications and do other things related to their treatment, such as diet or exercise. The app can also be used to help patients on dialysis to manage their appointments and chart their progress. NephroCare My Companion also includes a library of educational content that helps patients understand their condition and cope with dialysis treatment.
From the provider side, doctors can also place personalized recommendations and treatment changes into the app so that patients can see and implement them immediately.
Alternatives to NephroCare My Companion
A number of alternatives to NephroCare My Companion have been developed to provide education and support for people diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. These apps are free and available to anyone with a kidney condition.
My Kidneys, My Health Handbook for Android and iOS was developed by Kidney Health Australia to provide educational and lifestyle support for people with all stages of chronic kidney disease. This app focuses on helping people to understand and manage their condition and includes interactive features for assessing risk and health factors. However, this app doesn’t include options for entering and sharing medical information with healthcare providers.
H2Overload for iOS helps people with kidney diseases track metrics such as daily fluid intake, weight, and blood pressure, and alerts users if these numbers warrant a call to a healthcare provider. Users can also share data with providers and get reminders about appointments and medications.
What Patients Are Saying
Patients receiving care for chronic kidney conditions through Fresenius Medical Care facilities and others using the NephroCare platform are generally pleased with the My Companion app. Some praise its user-friendly interface, which makes it easy to record and share information with doctors. Others say that the app helps them manage their condition at home, with fewer in-person appointments.
Some dialysis patients say that the app can help them manage stress and feel more in control of their condition. Major drawbacks to the app include its limited availability in certain areas of the world, and the fact that it’s the only kidney care app that can work with the proprietary NephroCare portal.
Chronic kidney disease requires ongoing management and treatment, along with the underlying conditions that cause kidney damage, so patients need tools that help them stay on track. The NephroCare platform is one of many advances in telemedicine that help to keep patients and providers connected, and the NephroCare My Companion app is a user-friendly extension of the platform that gives users the tools they need to stay on track, manage their condition, and enjoy their lives.
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