Today, 11 March 2021, BMC Nephrology is celebrating World Kidney Day. This awareness campaign started in 2006 as a joint effort of the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations with the goal of increasing awareness of kidney disease worldwide.
Themes over the years have highlighted the impact of risk factors of diabetes and obesity and focus on transplantation, and the health of women and children. This year, the theme will be the year of “Living Well with Kidney Disease” with the goal of patient empowerment and life participation. This is a striking reset in priorities. There has been a tremendous focus on outcomes as measured by lab values and hospitalizations rates with reimbursements affected positively or negatively when not meeting targets. Protocol developments by insurers and hospital systems and guidelines have reinforced the emphasis on data. This year’s theme reframes the care of individuals with kidney disease as improving outcomes to allow them to continue to participate in their lives. The theme also emphasizes that meeting laboratory targets and following protocols do not equate to fully taking care of the patient.
Life participation is not something easily measured and cannot really be determined without the input of the patient. For some, it will be the ability to work, to participate in family activities, to vacation, or to control their symptoms. It puts patients and their caregivers at the center of their treatment plan and setting the goals of their care. To deliver this, healthcare providers will need to provide the education and support to empower patients and caregivers to be able to have a more active role and have discussions about what is important to them.
This year’s World Kidney Day theme is a good reminder to all health providers that we are taking care of the individual not just treating a disease process.
This year’s World Kidney Day theme is a good reminder to all health providers that we are taking care of the individual not just treating a disease process. Hearing our patient’s concerns, challenges, and what they value should be part of our routine. Kidney disease for many is a life-changing diagnosis. While we cannot change the diagnosis of kidney disease, addressing the anxiety and frustrations many patients have will help their overall care. The initiative of living well with kidney disease serves to remind nephrology providers that kidney disease is part of the patient’s life but should not be their entire life. I would take this further that this may be a reminder for all of us taking care of individuals with a variety of health conditions. We need to take care of the individual, not just the disease.