By V. Scantlebury, MD, FACS, DPC Education Center Healthcare Consultant

Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina’s Department of Surgery has developed an initiative that will help address the disparities seen in kidney transplantation for African Americans. While African Americans develop kidney failure at a rate that is three times greater than Whites, they are four times less likely to receive a kidney transplant by 12 months after a diagnosis of kidney failure.

There are many barriers that contribute to these inequities and the researchers at MUSC, hope to implement strategies designed to reduce the structural barriers that prevent African Americans from obtaining access to kidney transplantation.

One barrier that was identified was the lack of ability for African Americans to complete the evaluation process, due to the significant amount of time it takes to travel back and forth to the transplant center. By implementing telehealth visits, they were able to provide greater access to transplant evaluation.

In partnership with South Carolina Telehealth Alliance, various telehealth hubs were placed in metropolitan areas across the state that are located far from transplant centers. These hubs made it easier for providers to evaluate those patients seeking kidney transplant.

In South Carolina, 68% of the patients on chronic dialysis treatment are African Americans.  In addition to telehealth, MUSC also partnered with local medical providers within the communities to assist patients in completing their required testing. By implementing these interventions, the providers saw that “racial disparities in the rates of evaluation virtually disappeared, (and) African Americans were as likely to proceed with evaluation as Whites.”

These findings stress the importance of identifying the structural barriers that prevent patients from obtaining optimal health and most importantly, implementing strategies to eliminate such barriers.

Original article can be found at Bringing racial equity to kidney transplant evaluation | MUSC | Charleston, SC.