Telehealth Use by Living Kidney Donor Transplant Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond: a Practical Approach

Curr Transplant Rep. 2021;8(4):257-262. doi: 10.1007/s40472-021-00339-w. Epub 2021 Nov 17.


Purpose of review: COVID-19 pandemic led to a decline in living kidney donor evaluations and transplants. This was due to concerns for donor and recipient safety, restrictions on elective cases, and diversion of staff and resources in centers with a higher incidence of COVID-19 infections. Telehealth was explored as a strategy to continue living donor evaluations during the pandemic, but faced barriers including restrictive physician licensing, reduced reimbursement, lack of infrastructure, prohibitive local policies, limited exam, and personal biases. This review highlights these barriers and potential solutions.

Recent findings: Telehealth usage in the transplant population improves medication adherence, reduces hospitalization rates for recipients, and makes living donor evaluation convenient. Transplant centers have implemented telehealth successfully for living kidney donor evaluations. Broad use of telemedicine will be possible only if policies support the changing landscape of healthcare delivery.

Summary: Telehealth may increase access to timely kidney transplants by expediting living kidney donor evaluations. However, supportive infrastructure, regulatory policies, and reimbursement are needed to sustain access to telehealth for living kidney donor evaluation and care.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; Living donor evaluations; Policy; Telehealth; Telehealth barriers; Transplantation.

Publication types

  • Review