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The Importance of Education for Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease

To say that I was not an early adopter of the Kidney Smart® community education program is an understatement. When the program was first introduced to me, I completely dismissed it as “just another DaVita initiative.”  It wasn’t until several months after first hearing about Kidney Smart that I began to understand how beneficial this community resource can be for patients with advanced chronic kidney disease.

After some strong encouragement, I attended a Kidney Smart class and was completely surprised by how engaged patients and family members were in the discussion. I was also taken aback by how wide-ranging the education topics were. This was not just another conversation on modality choices; it was truly 90 minutes of discussion revolving around living with kidney disease. During that class, I listened to discussions about diet, NSAIDs, glucose control, and preemptive kidney transplants, and a great conversation regarding palliative care options.

As I began to recommend my patients to Kidney Smart, I noticed the depth and quality of questions patients and their family members were able to articulate after the class was significantly different than before they attended. It became easier to engage my patients in frank discussions about difficult issues such as end-of-life care, the benefits of home dialysis and patients’ options surrounding employment while on dialysis.

Education for our patients doesn’t start or end with Kidney Smart, but I have been pleased with this community education resource and credit the Kidney Smart educators in my city with having a tremendously positive impact on the patients I have recommended and how they proceed with their care. The improved clinical outcomes for many DaVita patients who have attended a Kidney Smart class are a strong motivation to recommend the program to patients, and for me, experiencing the deeper level of understanding that my patients and their caregivers achieve has been highly rewarding.

Jeffrey Giullian, MD, MBA

Jeffrey Giullian, MD, MBA

Jeffrey Giullian, MD, serves as chief medical officer for DaVita Kidney Care. Dr. Giullian leads the transformation of kidney care through his commitment to providing holistic, integrated care that addresses the clinical and psychosocial needs of patients. Dr. Giullian is focused on pushing the boundaries on exemplary clinical care through innovation and expanding what is possible for patients living with kidney disease. Since joining DaVita in 2016, Dr. Giullian previously served as chief medical officer of hospital services, vice president of medical affairs and national group medical director at DaVita Kidney Care. Dr. Giullian relies on his past experiences in private practice and hospital leadership to advocate for patients, physicians and medical directors. He is active with the Renal Physicians Association (RPA) as a member of the Board of Directors, chairman of the Healthcare Payment Committee and member of the RPA’s team of advisors to the American Medical Association Relative Value Units Utilization Committee. Dr. Giullian trained in nephrology and transplantation at Vanderbilt University and received his MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver. Twitter: @Dr_Giullian_MD