The future for millions of people with kidney failure got brighter this weekend following the announcement of major state funding for the development of an artificial intelligence medical device which will enable patients requiring dialysis to be better managed in their own home. With little innovation in dialysis treatment in the last 50 years, this technology is being viewed as a potential breakthrough in patient care.
The solution, which is being developed as a joint project between digital health company patientMpower, wearable technology innovators Sixty and leading research and academic institutions the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, was announced as a winner of the Irish Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF). The €2.1 millions ($2.3m) funding will enable development and eventual commercialisation of this technology over the next three years.
The solution will combine machine learning and wearable technologies to replace current methods used to determine a dialysis patient’s optimum fluid status, whilst enabling continuous monitoring of patients’ individual fluid level for the first time. Remote monitoring data will be used to provide biofeedback and trigger smart-alerts, employing technology patientMpower has already developed in the area of lung transplantation, empowering patients to self-manage and allowing healthcare teams to intervene when necessary. “This solution will be a virtual nephrologist in the patient’s home, with autonomous adjustment of the dialysis prescription combined with remote monitoring and support giving patients and physicians confidence in home dialysis” said Prof. Conall O’Seaghdha, Consultant Nephrologist and Chief Medical Officer of patientMpower.
The importance of home dialysis came into focus earlier this year when President Trump signed an Executive Order which aims to ambitiously change kidney disease treatment in the US, significantly increasing the amount of patients receiving home dialysis. Home dialysis is not only associated with better outcomes for patients, but at less than half the cost of standard clinic-based dialysis it results in significant healthcare expenditure savings. “Dialysis patients typically have poor quality of life, and the burden of dialysis on healthcare providers is huge, costing around €52 billion per year across the EU and US” explained Eamonn Costello CEO at patientMpower, the commercial lead for this project. “Despite its significant benefits, current rates of home dialysis internationally are very low, typically around 5%. Our solution will empower both patients and physicians to avail of this option, ultimately improving outcomes for patients and reducing the burden on payers.”
Work on the development programme will begin straight away, with the solution hopefully being available to patients by the end of 2022.