Since 2020, COVID-19 has inadvertently challenged the healthcare industry to adapt and innovate quickly, leading to virtual adaptations, technological advancements and improvements in care. But for the pediatric nephrologists at Riley Children’s Health, this approach has since emerged as a revolutionary solution.
In efforts to limit in-person contact while still providing optimal patient care, a recent study, led by Michelle C. Starr, MD, a pediatric nephrologist at Riley Children’s, outlines the benefits of telecommunications to initiate continuous kidney replacement therapy (CKRT) in children.
Recently, telemedicine has served as an advanced treatment method for many specialties to improve access and support for patients. That’s why Dr. Starr worked alongside her colleagues to analyze the applicability and safety of telemedicine for initiating CKRT. The study, published via Pediatric Nephrology, aimed to enhance CKRT care delivery, without compromising quality or the patient or provider’s experience overall.
As a result, pediatric nephrologists began adopting a secure virtual platform, which included two-way video and audio connection, to compare how technology would perform in relation to in-person CKRT initiations. The study encompassed 101 CKRT circuit initiations in patients who had not previously undergone CKRT. Of these participants, who differed in age, weight and illness severity, 33% utilized the new telemedicine approach. Remarkably, the novel method proved to be more time-efficient, occurring approximately three hours after the decision to initiate therapy, compared to the six hours for in-person CKRT starts.
“Telemedicine not only showcases its significant efficiency, but it also emphasizes its role in maintaining the safety of our pediatric patients. It reduces transmission risk and increases the speed of initiating a therapy, which is often needed urgently,” Dr. Starr said. “Through the results of this trial, we know using telemedicine in this setting can be a long-term solution to improve medicine and workforce wellness, given the approach also decreases physician burnout significantly.”
Additional collaborators of the research study included Riley pediatric nephrologists Kathleen E. Altemose, MD and Danielle E. Soranno, MD, as well as David S. Hains, MD, division chief of pediatric nephrology. Together, they implemented the technological method in their own practices, where they all agreed it was a strong alternative for CKRT initiation.
“As the pediatric nephrology field evolves, we’ll continue researching how new technology will impact children with kidney conditions,” Dr. Starr added. “For now, telemedicine for CKRT is viable, and it has worked wonders for all of us so far.”
Alongside studying telemedicine for CKRT, Dr. Starr is an acclaimed physician, with clinical interests including pediatric nephrology, kidney replacement therapy and acute kidney injury (AKI) in the NICU. Additional work from Dr. Starr includes research on the correlation of renal tissue oxygenation as well as AKI in premature neonates.
To learn more about the groundbreaking efforts behind the pediatric nephrology program at Riley Children’s, view the annual report.