The Challenge: Helping patients, clinicians and hospitals manage dialysis

With about one in 10 Australians suffering from chronic kidney disease, hospitals see almost 1.4 million dialysis visits a year.

Peritoneal dialysis, which involves treating abdominal fluid rather than blood, is a flexible home-based therapy and is cheaper than hospital-based dialysis. It enables people to have life-sustaining therapy at home, helping maintain their health and independence.

Encouraging more patients to use this form of dialysis, where suitable, could reduce the strain of hospital-based haemodialysis visits on hospitals and on patients.

The Response: A mobile app for patients on peritoneal dialysis, partnered with a clinician portal

Researchers at CSIRO’s Australian e-Health Research Centre developed PD-BUDDy, a mobile health platform, in collaboration with peritoneal dialysis nurses at Logan Hospital in Queensland. The platform includes a smartphone app for patients and a portal for clinicians, and was designed to help increase the uptake of peritoneal dialysis and improve patient outcomes.

Patients can use the app to follow a personalised dialysis prescription set by their clinical team, and record their response to treatment in real time. They can also use it to remotely interact with clinicians, potentially removing the need to visit the hospital in some cases. The app also features the ability to upload photos of the exit site, notes about their digestive health, and exercise, lists of current medication, and links to relevant resources.

Clinicians can use PD-BUDDy’s secure portal to monitor patients’ progress in real time, enabling timely interventions and improving efficiency.

The Results: Initial results show PD-BUDDy effectively supports patients and clinicians

The PD-BUDDy mobile health platform is being tested in a feasibility study of 30 patients at Logan Hospital. Preliminary results show patients were slightly less likely to get infections while using the app to monitor progress and symptoms, and participants reported finding the app to be valuable and convenient.

Clinicians involved in the study have adopted the platform as part of their regular routines and reported it had been beneficial to their service.

PD-BUDDy has wide potential to help patients and clinicians both in Australia and overseas, and we are investigating its suitability for supporting patients on haemodialysis, along with helping nephrologists support kidney transplant patients.