Home dialysis for better quality of life and more efficient treatment

The number of dialysis patients is continuously increasing, both in Finland and around the world. Dialysis is an expensive, time-consuming life-sustaining treatment. In Finland, approximately 75% of dialysis patients are still treated at the hospital, although the share of home dialysis has increased. However, bringing dialysis treatment to a patient's home is burdensome and complicated for both the patient and the health care unit providing the treatment. CleverHealth Network’s home dialysis project is trying to solve this problem.

Home care is known to be beneficial to both the patient and the treating unit. Some patients don't experience any benefits, however. That is why it is important to identify the patient groups that are suitable for this type of treatment.

  • “Studies show that the patients’ quality of life is better and the prognosis is at least as good, if not better, than in dialysis in the hospital. Home treatment is also less expensive, and it should be promoted”, says Virpi Rauta, nephrologist and development manager at HUS Helsinki University Hospital.

HUS is coordinating the home dialysis project of the CleverHealth Network ecosystem. The project aims to identify patients suitable for home dialysis at an early stage and to create an application that patients can use during the entire dialysis stage, starting from predialysis. The application can be used to collect follow-up data using specifically designed indicators and sensors, to enable communication between the patient and personnel and to manage the ordering of required treatment supplies. The aim is to create an intelligent application that makes home dialysis easy and convenient for both the patient and the health care personnel. HUS’s partners in this co-development project include Kaiku Health, Tieto, Intito, Gillie.AI, Aalto University and University of Helsinki.

  • “The project is off to a good start. I’m excited to see what the research project will find. It is important to get information on how to select the most appropriate form of treatment“, says Virpi Rauta, who is leading the project at HUS.

The research project entails versatile use of patient data of HUS’s data pool as well as data that patients collect daily at home. In the study, AI predicts the condition of the patient based on clinical data and analyses prospective follow-up data. AI will hopefully help to detect surprisingly rapid progression at the final stage of renal disease, for example.

  • “The aim is to minimise acute initiation of dialysis. That often means that the patient will stay in the hospital for inpatient dialysis. It would be better to be able to plan the treatment beforehand“, says Rauta.

Dialysis patients are often elderly people with multiple diseases, and they might need special help with home dialysis. Trips to the hospital for dialysis treatment are extremely expensive and time consuming and account for a major part of the expenses. With appropriate allocation of funds, this money could be used for assisted home dialysis.

Home dialysis is most commonly used in Northern Finland where the distances are long. In the Lapland Hospital District up to 65% of the patients are already treated at home. On the other hand, below 15% of the patients in four other hospital districts received their treatment at home in 2018. Regional differences are very large.

World Kidney Day was celebrated on Thursday 12 March 2020, and, simultaneously, the Finnish Society of Nephrology celebrated its 50th anniversary with a seminar that also featured the home dialysis project of HUS.

Event programme

The Finnish Society of Nephrology is open to nephrologists, physicians specialising in nephrology and physicians with a special interest in nephrology. It aims to promote teaching and research of nephrology in Finland. Other tasks include increasing awareness of renal diseases and their treatment and maintaining and improving national and international connections in the field of nephrology. The Society has 185 members.