According to a study conducted by Dialysis Clinic Inc, a national not-for-profit dialysis provider, patients on maintenance dialysis who contract Covid-19 have a nearly 25% mortality rate, much higher than those who do not contract the virus. The study highlighted that one of the key risk factors for contracting the virus include receiving treatment at an in-centre. Most dialysis patients cannot practice effective physical distancing at an in-centre, and associated transportation further potentiates the risk of Covid-19. Alternative treatments such as home dialysis are therefore required to mitigate this risk.
The trend toward utilising home care for dialysis patients has been occurring for several years, but the Covid-19 crisis has further emphasised the need to increase home care devices. Maintenance dialysis patients typically have multiple medical comorbid conditions, including diabetes and obesity, which increase their risk for poor outcomes if they develop Covid-19. As such, GlobalData expects there will be an increased demand for home care solutions, presenting an opportunity for dialysis equipment market players.
Companies capitalising on this need include Fresenius, which predicted a shift from outpatient care to home dialysis due to the pandemic, and accordingly acquired devices to facilitate the move out of dedicated clinics. Debiotech and Dutch company Neokidney are also now collaborating to accelerate the development of the first portable hemodialysis device, Neokidney. In addition to its portability, Neokidney features low fluid consumption, making it ideal for home use.
Patient demographics, reimbursement policies, cost, and physician comfort levels have previously restricted the broader use of home dialysis. In the US, insurance for home dialysis, which includes visits from home health nurses, is not sufficient to cover the costs. However, Fresenius reported that in countries where reimbursement initiatives exist, such as in the UK or Turkey, a significantly higher share of chronic kidney disease patients are able to be dialysed at home, resulting in better outcomes at lower costs to the patient.