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Int J Integr Care. 2004;4:e17. Epub 2004 Oct 15.

Activating chronic kidney disease patients and family members through the Internet to promote integration of care.

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Research Triangle Institute, 411 Waverley Oaks Road, Suite 330, Waltham, Massachusetts 02452, USA.



To describe the potential role of the Internet as a vehicle for improving integration of care through activating chronic kidney disease patients and their family members. Also, to describe how that potential is being developed through a website sponsored by the Medicare program in the United States.


The Internet is expanding at a rapid rate, and health-related websites are one of its most popular features. Efforts to promote integration of care have focused mainly on providers up to now, and more emphasis is needed on the potential roles of patients. Chronically ill patients have particular needs for improved education about their conditions and enhanced involvement in care planning and treatment decisions. Medicare developed the Dialysis Facility Compare website to serve those goals for people with chronic kidney disease.


We conducted qualitative research with 140 chronic kidney disease patients and family members, and 130 renal care professionals to evaluate and improve the Dialysis Facility Compare website. A series of 19 focus groups, 13 triads (small focus groups), and 56 individual interviews were conducted in four regions of the United States and by telephone.


We found that the Dialysis Facility Compare website has the potential to improve integration of care for people with chronic kidney disease in at least three ways. First: by expanding the roles of patients as members of the multi-disciplinary team of caregivers treating their disease. Second: through better integration of the informal care provided in the home and community with the formal care provided by health professionals. Third: by improving coordination of between care provided in the pre-dialysis and dialysis phases of the disease.


We developed recommendations for revising and enhancing the Dialysis Facility Compare website in a number of ways to better promote patient activation and integration of care. The unique features of the Internet, such as its different dimensions of interactivity, and applications of behavioural theories for website design should also be further explored.

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