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Med Device

Transforming the dialysis industry to empower patients

Qualitative research

Charter and business case development

Patients with chronic kidney disease face lengthy treatments three or more times a week in an often-dreary, tightly-scheduled, and crowded dialysis center. It’s no wonder that people who do dialysis on their own time and in the comfort of their own home are happier, healthier, and more empowered.

Our start-up client had developed an innovative, consumer-friendly and connected dialysis machine that made in-home treatments easy. But for patients who weren’t quite ready to take the leap to independence (needles! blood!), how could they benefit from this technology? Recognizing the gap, our client needed to prove out a concept of a new way of doing dialysis: in-center self-care. They looked to Fathom to identify solutions that would empower patients to do hemodialysis on their own, but in a dialysis center.

Understanding barriers and benefits

Our client didn’t just need to know what patients thought about this new idea. They also faced introducing new ways of working to an industry that hasn’t seen much innovation and has historically traditionally slow to change. That’s why we made sure everyone had a seat at the table, asking questions like:

  • Why would patients want to do dialysis on their own in a center, if someone else could do it for them?
  • How willing were dialysis centers administrators to invest in self-care stations? Could they adapt their existing infrastructure, workflows, and policies and procedures to accommodate this new modality?
  • Could clinicians who treat patients day-to-day actually imagine this new way of working? How would they actually implement it in their own centers?

Observing patients do treatments both in-home and in-center, watching dialysis technicians go about their daily work, and co-creating a future in-center self-care concept with dialysis nurses brought clarity to a fuzzy and unproven idea, and confidence in how to move forward.

Communicating the value proposition

As the result of our research with nearly 60 dialysis professionals and more than a dozen patients and caregivers, we developed an in-center self-care pitch deck for our client to use with dialysis center administrators. And, for customers looking for implementation details, we developed a detailed practice guide with step-by-step directions to get started.

In addition to materials that our client can now share with their customers, our client achieved:

  • A more comprehensive understanding of the current state of self-administered dialysis and the mindsets of dialysis professionals and patients
  • Clarity around what the future of self-care could really look like, and concrete recommendations to address clinician and patient barriers
  • Results of detailed times studies demonstrating efficiency drivers if patients were to do dialysis on their own in a center using the new machine

2022 update: Pandemic-related considerations caused our start-up client to pivot (no surprise!) away from in-center care to in-home dialysis. Our engagement has continued as we help them to operationalize home dialysis programs for clinics and patients.