Frequent Dialysis Increases Costs But Is Cost-Effective

Increased costs could be offset if economic model underlying dialysis delivery is changed

THURSDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- More frequent hemodialysis is more expensive but cost-effective for patients with end-stage renal disease, and the increased costs could be neutralized by changing the economic model underlying dialysis delivery, according to research published online July 9 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Chris P. Lee, Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues used a Monte Carlo simulation model to compare total lifetime costs and quality of life for combinations of in-center hemodialysis frequency (three to six treatments per week) and session length (2.0 to 4.5 hours per session) for a representative population of 200,000 patients with end-stage renal disease.

Compared with a conventional regimen of three treatments per week for 3.5 hours per session, the researchers found that all regimens had a cost-effectiveness ratio of more than $75,000 and most had a ratio less than $125,000. This ratio increased with more frequent hemodialysis. More frequent dialysis was estimated to increase life expectancy by two to 24 months, the report indicates. Reducing the cost per hemodialysis session by 32 to 43 percent was the only variable that could make more frequent hemodialysis cost-neutral, according to the study.

"In conclusion, given the extraordinarily high costs of the end-stage renal disease program, the viability of more frequent hemodialysis strategies depends on significant improvements in the economic model underlying the delivery of hemodialysis," Lee and colleagues write.

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