CVS (NYSE: CVS) has entered the in-home dialysis market.
The company announced Wednesday it is beginning a clinical trial of its new home hemodialysis system this week. By enabling in-home treatment, CVS could allow patients with end-stage kidney disease to receive more frequent care, with the goal being to improve outcomes.
Typically, patients with kidney disease have to visit dialysis centers three times per week for three to five hours at a time for treatment.
Patients participating in the trial, on the other hand, will get dialysis every other day for around 6 hours per day using the at-home machines, CVS Executive Vice President Alan Lotvin said, according to Reuters.
More dialysis has been shown to lead to better results for kidney disease patients.
The announcement comes about a week after federal policymakers proposed a variety of new payment models for certain kidney-related conditions, most of which are covered by Medicare.
The overhaul would incentivize doctors and kidney care centers to treat patients earlier for conditions that often lead to kidney-related health issues. Plus, it could create opportunities for home-based care providers down the road, experts have told Home Health Care News.
“Many patients can receive home dialysis but don’t today, and [these] policies … will enable patients to spend more time at home instead of being in a dialysis center three times per week,” Dr. Michael Cantor, chief medical officer at CareCentrix, previously told HHCN.
Hartford, Connecticut-based CareCentrix is a home health provider with more than 8,000 locations nationwide. The company is currently exploring the possibility of offering in-home dialysis.
Meanwhile, CVS’s study is already underway. It will enroll as many as 70 patients at 10 medical centers in the U.S. for the next 16 to 18 months. If things go well, CVS plans to offer dialysis starting in 2021.
However, some doubt success will come easily.
For example, global financial services firm UBS predicts CVS could run into trouble with the pilot, given its various relationships and joint ventures with existing dialysis providers. On top of that, patients will still need a nephrologist and must belong to a clinic, UBS said in a note.