Online Tools Increase Efficiency, Speed of Kidney Donor Screening

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla.—Using web-based preliminary screening of potential kidney donors has resulted in a flood of applications at two U.S. transplant centers.

It only takes potential donors a couple of minutes to confidentially answer questions about whether they have hypertension, diabetes, frequent kidney stones or hepatitis, and whether they are current smokers or users of illicit drugs. The websites differentiate between absolute ineligibility—for example, having hepatitis C, HIV, or diabetes—and relative ineligibility, such as being obese or currently smoking. Potential donors can then either proceed to a longer web-based health-status questionnaire or are brought to a webpage stating they are not currently suitable candidates.

The paperless format makes it easy to screen large numbers of people quickly, and for people needing kidneys to pass word on to friends and family, by simply e-mailing the screening website's URL.

Details of web-based donor screening programs at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., were presented at the American Society of Transplant Surgeons' 2012 Annual State of the Art Winter Symposium.

“We're having to redo some of our workflow because we're getting so many potential donors—for example, one of the people on our transplant wait list has 19 potential donors,” said John Roberts, MD, Chief of Transplantation at UCSF. "It's much more unlikely to get multiple potential donors stepping forward when the screening questionnaire is on paper. That's why we're really excited about online screening.”

The Vanderbilt Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Program is having a similar experience with their online kidney donor intake form, available at https://www.vanderbilthealth.com/transplant/30936.

 “We are very excited about this new web-based tool and feel that it can be easily incorporated into many transplant programs,” noted Deonna Moore, MSN, a nurse practitioner for the Vanderbilt program who has been instrumental in the development and application of the web based tool that has been in use since January 2011. In the past year, the tool has been used to screen more than 600 potential donors. “The features of the web-based application increase the transplant center's ability to attract donors and process them efficiently, with the ultimate goal being to potentially increase living kidney donation.”

“One of the things I've been amazed about is the percentage of people who have Internet access and seem able to use it,” Dr. Roberts noted.

The UCSF website uses a BREEZE Transplant (MedSleuth, Inc., San Francisco; http:www.medsleuth.com/transplant/) platform. An analysis by Dr. Roberts' team of 200 consecutive users of the website showed there was a 98% satisfaction rating and a 96% rating for ease of use. Moreover, since the web-based approach was implemented there has been a 41% increase in rate of donor-questionnaire completion and 50% increased productivity of the transplant nurse coordinators.

Another benefit is the immediate availability of donor information to clinicians compared with the previous several-week delay with paper-based screening.

Both the UCSF and Vanderbilt programs have found that approximately 25% of people screened online are not suitable donors.

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