Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects more than 1 in 7 US adults or an estimated 37 million Americans [1]. This disease involves the progressive loss of kidney function over months or years. Its progression occurs in five stages based on the level of kidney function, with stage 1 indicating normal kidney function and stage 5 meaning kidney failure. Without proper kidney function, the healthy nephrons remaining in the kidney cannot adequately filter blood and maintain bodily health.

Although CKD is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, screening has not been prioritized. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), responsible for providing evidence-based recommendations on clinical preventive services, does not offer any recommendations for CKD screening. Unfortunately, this preventable and treatable disease is often not intensively managed until a patient has progressed to kidney failure. LetsGetChecked’s at-home Kidney Test can help health plan members monitor their kidney function and allow early intervention and cost-effective disease management.

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Why early detection of chronic kidney disease is important

In its early stages, CKD is an asymptomatic disease. This lack of symptoms contributes to low diagnosis rates, with as many as 90 percent of individuals with CKD going undiagnosed [2]. Fortunately, it is possible to prevent or at least slow the progression of CKD when it is caught early on. Those who receive regular screening tests can receive insight into their kidney function, enabling early intervention and cost-effective disease management. Without proper identification, CKD can worsen over time, leading to kidney failure and complications, such as stroke or heart attack. In fact, approximately 2 in 1,000 Americans have end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) — a type of kidney failure that requires treatment with a kidney transplant or dialysis [3]

If CKD is detected early, clinicians can begin effective treatment of the disease at an earlier stage, preventing kidney function loss and delaying or avoiding the progression towards kidney failure. Early detection can improve patient outcomes and reduce the impact of CKD on healthcare resources.

The Cost of CKD

CKD is a severe economic burden on the United States health care system. Members with CKD often have extensive healthcare needs and costly co-existing illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment for Medicare beneficiaries with CKD cost $87.2 billion in 2019 [4]. Patients with CKD incur approximately $22,348 per person yearly in medical expenditures, which is almost three times as much as those without CKD [5].

Acting early with proactive kidney function screening enables intervention when CKD is treatable at a lower cost and with better outcomes. Treatment during the early stages of CKD can slow the progression to ESRD and minimize related complications and medical costs. Patients with CKD who receive an early diagnosis and timely treatment can dramatically reduce dialysis dependency, demand for kidney transplants, and healthcare costs.

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How LetsGetChecked can help enable early detection

Early detection is the most effective way to combat kidney disease. LetsGetChecked can help health plans close gaps in care by enabling their members to monitor their kidney function and performance from the comfort of their homes. Our at-home Kidney Test enables health plan members at risk for CKD to monitor their urea, creatinine, and eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate) levels. Proactive testing is a crucial first step to connecting members to the timely care they need.

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