Kidney Care Community Encouraged by New USRDS Data, Stresses the Need for Continued Improvement

The latest United States Renal Data System (USRDS) report underscores the need to expand education and early detection efforts to improve health outcomes.

Washington, DC, November 27, 2019 --( Kidney Care Partners (KCP) – the nation’s leading kidney care multi-stakeholder coalition representing patient advocates, physician organizations, health professional groups, dialysis providers, researchers and manufacturers – today expressed optimism that the 2019 report from the United States Renal Data System (USRDS) shows progress in America’s kidney health, but the coalition noted that more work can be done to improve education and early detection to further improve patient outcomes.

The data, released in the new USRDS 2019 Annual Data Report, show signs of promise. In 2017, the latest year for which complete data are available, the rate of new cases of end-stage renal disease (ESRD or kidney failure) dropped to the lowest level since 1998. At 340.7 per million in 2017, the decreased rate of new cases of ESRD results from progress due to prevention and treatment efforts. These positive trends complement a separate Discern Health data analysis that shows that improvements in care and survival rates for individuals receiving dialysis have outpaced other serious chronic disease conditions including cancer, diabetes, heart failure, COPD, and stroke. Discern Health’s analysis also found that despite the fact that individuals with kidney failure are among the most complex and costly Medicare beneficiaries to treat, improvements in dialysis care have led to improved patient outcomes and substantial slowing in Medicare spending for kidney failure, from 7 percent to 1.5 percent over a 10-year period.

The USRDS report also makes it clear that there is still room for progress. According to USRDS, one-third of the country’s 124,408 patients diagnosed with ESRD in 2017 had received little or no care from a kidney specialist prior to kidney failure. As the data show, individuals who do not receive nephrology care in the earlier stages of kidney disease are at greater risk of serious complications like heart attack and stroke, and they more quickly develop kidney failure, requiring either dialysis or transplant to survive.

Stakeholders from across the kidney care community believe that to make further progress for Americans with renal disease, a continued focus on earlier diagnoses and innovative approaches to treatment are critical. KCP’s Kidney Care FIRST Framework, published earlier this year, illuminates the path forward by addressing the entire continuum of chronic kidney disease, focusing on five major pillars: awareness and prevention; patient empowerment; quality and access to quality care; innovation; and research.

“While we are encouraged by the positive trends highlighted in the USRDS 2019 Annual Data Report, we know that more needs to be done,” said Dr. Allen Nissenson, chair of KCP. “In order to save lives and lower health care costs, our country must take steps to expand awareness efforts, early detection campaigns, and continue to improve access to transplants. KCP believes that by working collaboratively with Congress and the Administration, we can continue to improve kidney care nationwide, save lives, and achieve potentially billions of dollars in savings to our healthcare system.”

Policymakers and lawmakers can help close gaps in kidney care and improve health for millions of America’s kidney patients by supporting the bipartisan Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act of 2019 and other policies to promote education, awareness and prevention, improved quality of life for patients, and increased investment in research and innovation in care. Moreover, President Trump’s Executive Order on Advancing American Kidney Health and the Administration’s dedication to seeking innovative improvements through the KidneyX Innovation Accelerator are cause for continued optimism that accelerating progress is possible.
Kidney Care Partners
Sarah Ann Rhoades