Care of the dialysis patient: Primary provider involvement and resource utilization patterns - A cohort study

Bjorg Thorsteinsdottir, Priya Ramar, Latonya J. Hickson, Megan S. Reinalda, Robert C. Albright, Jon C. Tilburt, Amy W. Williams, Paul Y. Takahashi, Molly M. Jeffery, Nilay D. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Efficient and safe delivery of care to dialysis patients is essential. Concerns have been raised regarding the ability of accountable care organizations to adequately serve this high-risk population. Little is known about primary care involvement in the care of dialysis patients. This study sought to describe the extent of primary care provider (PCP) involvement in the care of hemodialysis patients and the outcomes associated with that involvement. Methods: In a retrospective cohort study, patients accessing a Midwestern dialysis network from 2001 to 2010 linked to United States Renal Database System and with >90 days follow up were identified (n = 2985). Outpatient visits were identified using Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)-4 codes, provider specialty, and grouped into quartiles-based on proportion of PCP visits per person-year (ppy). Top and bottom quartiles represented patients with high primary care (HPC) or low primary care (LPC), respectively. Patient characteristics and health care utilization were measured and compared across patient groups. Results: Dialysis patients had an overall average of 4.5 PCP visits ppy, ranging from 0.6 in the LPC group to 6.9 in the HPC group. HPC patients were more likely female (43.4% vs. 35.3%), older (64.0 yrs. vs. 60.0 yrs), and with more comorbidities (Charlson 7.0 vs 6.0). HPC patients had higher utilization (hospitalizations 2.2 vs. 1.8 ppy; emergency department visits 1.6 vs 1.2 ppy) and worse survival (3.9 vs 4.3 yrs) and transplant rates (16.3 vs. 31.5). Conclusions: PCPs are significantly involved in the care of hemodialysis patients. Patients with HPC are older, sicker, and utilize more resources than those managed primarily by nephrologists. After adjusting for confounders, there is no difference in outcomes between the groups. Further studies are needed to better understand whether there is causal impact of primary care involvement on patient survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number322
JournalBMC Nephrology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 25 2017


  • Dialysis
  • Hospitalization
  • Mortality
  • Primary Care
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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