Managing CKD with a Smartphone

By Marvin Tamayo, Clinical Nurse Manager at Satellite Healthcare, Satellite WellBound
 
There’s no doubt smartphones have had a tremendous impact on our way of life. They help us navigate roads, communicate with others and keep us entertained. Smartphones even play an increasingly vital role in healthcare settings with convenient and productive tools for both physicians and patients.  
 
With 37 million people, or 15 percent of U.S. adults, estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD), and roughly 77 percent of the U.S. population owning a smartphone, we’re finding more and more ways to bring health management to patients’ fingertips.
 
For patients with CKD, a plethora of information can be accessed online through your smartphone and there are many tools available to help you manage your dialysis.
 
Below are a few helpful suggestions for what you can do with your smartphone:
 

Communicate 

  • Add important numbers to your contacts list, such as your local dialysis center and centers for travel, nephrologist office and afterhours number, home program after hours call number, and a dialysis supply vendor for delivery or technical support.
  • Set up reminders for medical appointments at your center, for home dialysis and supply delivery.
  • Text or email center staff pictures of potential issues, such as a picture of a potentially infected exit site, allergic reactions, or other concerns.
  • Use social media platforms or blogs to connect with other CKD patients. The feeling of a support system can truly boost mood.
  • Contact your medical professionals with questions, prescription refill requests and set up your appointments.  Various health systems have features where you can email your doctor, send pictures of potential symptoms/problems, self-schedule visits, and request Rx drug refills.

Tracking

  • Download an application for medication tracking. I’m always very impressed when patients have their medication lists on their smartphone. You can also take pictures of your new medications to show your medical center staff in order for them to update your medication list at your next clinic visit.
  • Download a food-tracking app to monitor fluid, food, mineral intake (related to sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium) and an exercise app to track physical activity and weight.

Supply management

  • Order dialysis supplies online.
  • Use your smartphone’s stopwatch for cleaning dialysis equipment for timing your Peritoneal Dialysis manual drain
  • Use your notes app to make supply lists of what to order and what to request from home center staff to pick up at your next clinic visit. On a similar note, make a list of questions you want to ask your doctor or nurse at your next appointment.
 
Lastly, remember your smartphone is a hub of educational information. Read, watch videos and interact with the online community. But always consult your doctor before you try something new.
 
Whether you’ve been managing CKD for years or you’ve just been diagnosed, the next time you pick up your smartphone I urge you to try one of these tips and leave Candy Crush for another day.