Kidney X Challenge fuels and funds patient innovation

April 01, 2020, 1:19pm EDT

Last week at NKF's Spring Clinical Meetings Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan announced the 25 winners of the Kidney X Patient Innovator Challenge. This award provides cash prizes to patients, care partners and anyone with innovative ideas and solutions to improve the daily lives of those with kidney disease.

Understanding the importance of having patients and care partners serve as judges, NKF Kidney Advocacy Committee members Bobbie Reid and Haley Newkirk were both invited to serve on a panel that spent months reviewing more than 120 submissions.

“As a transplant patient, I know the community is in desperate need of innovation, along with the rest of the kidney care spectrum,” stated Haley about this opportunity to serve her community as a judge. “It was really interesting to consider the balance between what I thought would have the most impact, what was most likely to affect me personally, and how feasible some of the ideas really were. By including patients as judges, KidneyX seemed like a unique approach to homing in on patient needs.”

Bobbie was particularly proud to be part of this process, having navigated the kidney disease maze with her adult son from diagnosis of end stage renal disease (ESRD) to post-transplant. “KidneyX judging gave me the opportunity to see what was on the minds of other patients and care partners. This experience gave me a real sense of value. It reinforced the true foundation for my being an advocate to others living with kidney disease.”

Serving as a judge also gave Bobbie and Haley a better understanding of the roadblocks to innovation and a renewed hope that the kidney community would see real innovation. “Seeing the submissions firsthand opened my eyes to overcoming obstacles faced. As I read through my assigned entries, I found myself saying ‘What if’ this were available to us when we were at that phase?” said Bobbie Reed. “If just one person is helped by an entry that was made to the KidneyX Innovator Challenge, it will be one more accomplishment in improving another’s quality of life.”

Sharing these sentiments Haley stated, “Although I don't know if or how these ideas will ultimately make their way to patients, I'm excited to see what this effort does to support new ideas and inspire others to tackle similar issues!”

Prizes were awarded in two categories, both for solutions already tried or put into practice as well as ideas for solutions not yet created. The Patient Innovator Challenge is part of the larger Kidney X initiative, a public-private partnership between HHS and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) that incentivizes innovators to fill unmet patient needs through a series of prize competitions.

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