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A population grows to depend on dialysis

by Diana Bradley , Staff Writer
This story first appeared in the November 2011 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News

Experts have labeled 2011 a potential “landmark year” for the dialysis industry -- right on time for its upcoming 50th anniversary next year. “Change” seems to be the main theme, with the swiftly transforming sector putting stressors on providers to cost-effectively improve patient care.

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As if this year’s major reimbursement revamp wasn’t enough, a National Institutes of Health study, published in September’s New England Journal of Medicine, found that thrice-weekly dialysis might not be adequate for patients’ health. Addressing this issue by switching patients to every other day dialysis or daily dialysis could mean a multi-billion dollar change. But this change might be exactly what the doctor ordered.

“This study’s results are going to push the nephrology community and patient representatives to explore what is the best modality and frequency of therapy for patients,” says Dr. Michael Kraus , clinical coordinator, division of nephrology, with Indiana University Medical School.

Despite these dramatic modifications, the global dialysis market is alive and forecasted to grow considerably on a global scale — even amidst the current economic meltdown, according to a recent report from research company Koncept Analytics.

A growing problem
Annually, the number of patients requiring dialysis treatment is skyrocketing. In the U.S., this can be attributed to the country’s prevailing obesity epidemic, according to Kraus.

“The two most common causes of ESRD [end-stage renal disease] are hypertension and diabetes,” says Kraus. “These numbers will continue to go up, feeding the growth of ESRD.”

Around 300,000 patients are currently on dialysis in the U.S., with 100,000 new patients reported every year. In the U.K., there are 19,000 dialysis patients with that number forecasted to double in the next 10 years; 18,500 in Canada; and two million worldwide, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Kraus believes nephrologists will be able to cope with dialysis’ upsurge in demand, but notes those in his field need better training.

“We need to be more cognizant of care models to make sure they continue to allow nephrologists to flourish,” he says.

Dialysis market
North America currently dominates dialysis’ hearty market, including two lucrative segments: the dialysis products and services market. However, the share of Asia Pacific in the global dialysis market is likely to rise as China’s and India’s markets emerge.

Continue reading A population grows to depend on dialysis...
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