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To create a world without kidney diseases, the ASN Alliance for Kidney Health elevates care by educating and informing, driving breakthroughs and innovation, and advocating for policies that create transformative changes in kidney medicine throughout the world.

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Kidney Week

Abstract: TH-PO299

What Patients and Caregivers Want in a Personalized Mobile Dialysis Unit

Session Information

Category: Dialysis

  • 701 Dialysis: Hemodialysis and Frequent Dialysis


  • Kessler, Larry, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States
  • Kim, Ji-Eun, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States
  • Mccauley, Zach, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States
  • Roberts, Glenda V., Kidney Research Institute at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States
  • Boyle, Linda Ng, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States

The Center for Dialysis Innovation (CDI) at the University of Washington (UW) is designing an Ambulatory Kidney to Improve Vitality (AKTIV), a personalized and ambulatory device that will function as an artificial kidney for ESRD patients. Project objectives include developing, testing, and conducting clinical trials demonstrating feasibility of AKTIV to improve the current thrice-weekly hemodialysis treatment.
Modern theory of device/product construction calls for user input during conception and design. As we develop the technical aspects of AKTIV, user input is crucial to ensure that engineers and clinicians have target parameters for their final output. Our first set of interviews gathered data from patients and their caregivers and focused on ways to increase the usability of a mobile and self-contained dialysis device.


At the National Kidney Foundation meeting in Portland in March 2018, we interviewed 26 patients and caregivers with a pre-interview survey and semi-structured interview about their design and feature preferences for a novel, personalized mobile dialysis unit. The 26 participants were between the ages of 24 and 82 years (M = 60.2, SD = 13.9), of which 14 were female, and 19 were patients. Content analysis was performed on the interviews.


Participants chose the belt type for most preferred and the distributed type (parts of the device are separated from each other on the body) for least preferred compared to backpack, vest, and shoulder bag types (F (4, 124) = 2.80, p < 0.05). Participants reported that the most important features of a wearable dialysis unit were its accuracy and safety, compared to ease of use, comfort, compact, and simplicity to operate (F (5, 143) = 13.14, p < 0.001). Such preferences varied based on age, gender, and familiarity with wearable devices. Based on this input, we will design up to three different prototypes that were ranked the most preferred.


The interest and motivation of patients and caregivers to be involved in the creation of a personalized and mobile dialysis unit that works essentially as an artificial kidney is extremely high. From qualitative analysis and discussions, the dominant impression we have is patients want the device to be as unobtrusive as possible. We summarize by quoting a patient, “I don’t want to be identified as a dialysis patient when I walk into a room.”


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