Background: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is common, and nephrology services may not cope with the comprehensive referral of patients with CKD. We evaluated a shared primary and secondary care nephrology scheme, hypothesizing that some patients with less progressive moderate to advanced CKD can be identified and safely managed without attending the renal unit.
Methods: A retrospective review of 949 new referrals with stages 3 to 5 CKD managed in either the hospital nephrology clinic (HC) or the shared care scheme (SCS), in which nephrologists review patients remotely by using regular biochemical tests and clinical data recorded in primary care.
Results: Two hundred sixty-six patients (28%) were enrolled in the SCS and 683 patients (72%) were managed solely in the HC. Median time to entering the SCS was 111 days (interquartile range, 0 to 328 days). Baseline factors independently predictive of enrollment in the SCS were increasing age, greater glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and serum albumin levels, and no diabetic nephropathy. Few SCS patients did not attend reviews. Forty-one patients (15%) required recall to the HC, mostly because of a decline in GFR. Beneficial changes were seen in blood pressure levels and prescribing of angiotensin-system inhibitors from first referral to 3 years in all patients. Those enrolled in the SCS had good prognosis, with a lower risk for death or renal replacement therapy than the HC group after adjustment for age, sex, GFR, diabetic nephropathy, and vascular disease (hazard ratio, 0.64; 95% confidence interval, 0.38 to 0.89; P = 0.003).
Conclusion: In this setting, it was possible to select nearly 30% of patients with stages 3 to 5 CKD for management in the SCS. More than half enrolled within 4 months of nephrology referral. Systematic surveillance was effective, and most patients remained stable, with few progressing to renal replacement therapy or death.