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Abstract: SA-PO460

Impact of Inpatient Tele-Nephrology Treatment Outcomes in Rural Alabama

Session Information

Category: Dialysis

  • 701 Dialysis: Hemodialysis and Frequent Dialysis


  • Seay, Norman Winn, UAB Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
  • Bean, Katie, UAB Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
  • Rajasekaran, Arun, UAB Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
  • Saigusa, Takamitsu, UAB Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
  • Narasimha Krishna, Vinay, UAB Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
  • Chatham, Ashlee, UAB Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
  • Cole, Alicia S., UAB Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
  • Wallace, Eric L., UAB Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, United States

Access to nephrology care including dialysis in rural Alabama (AL) hospitals is lacking. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) with Sanderling Inc. started inpatient tele-nephrology (TN) services in 2019 and currently serves 3 rural AL hospitals. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, transfer to TN-equipped hospitals in AL played a pivotal role for patients needing nephrology services when primary referral centers were at capacity.


TN services were 100% virtual and video-based. Consults were completed by UAB nephrology faculty. Home hemodialysis machine (HHD) was used to provide kidney replacement therapy (KRT) in the hospital, with aid of inpatient dialysis technicians supervised remotely by TN dialysis nurses. TN consults were evaluated from Jun 2019 to Dec 2021. Retrospective chart review for pre-defined outcomes was performed and analyzed.


There were 694 inpatient TN encounters. Mean age was 64 (18-96) yr. 74% of consultations involved black patients. Mean stay was 6 d. 44% were ICU patients; 18% were COVID-19 positive. AKI and known ESKD patients contributed to 48% and 44% consults, respectively. 11% had AKI necessitating KRT. 20% and 13% of consults involved hyperkalemia and dysnatremias, respectively. 792 dialysis treatments were performed with 11% complicated by intradialytic hypotension (IDH). Patients were discharged 64% and transferred to higher level of care 18% of the time. 90 patients expired. 66% of deaths were attributable to COVID-19. Preliminary economics analysis at the hospital with the most consults showed increase in case-mix index and higher census since implementation of TN services.


Inpatient TN in community hospitals in rural AL provided essential nephrology care to underserved populations amidst a pandemic limiting transfer to nephrology-staffed medical centers at capacity. Most patient encounters resulted in discharge without need for transfer to bigger centers thus saving vital time and resources. Dialysis safety was favorable with low IDH prevalence likely given HHD use. TN services can be beneficial for nephrology care in remote community hospitals with further studies warranted.