For a study, researchers sought to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on CKD patients’ access to health care.

The databases MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched till July 2021. (PROSPERO CRD42021230831). Data relevant to health care access before and during the COVID-19 pandemic were retrieved, including outcomes linked to general nephrology consultations, telemedicine, dialysis services, and kidney transplants. To account for between-study heterogeneity, relative and absolute effects were pooled using a random-effects model. A modified Quality in Prognostic Studies tool was used to assess the risk of bias. The GRADE method was used to grade the evidence’s certainty.

About twenty-three studies were discovered throughout five WHO regions. When compared to the pre-COVID-19 era, transplantation procedures were reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic (risk ratio = 2.15, 95% CI=1.51-3.06, I2 = 90%, P<.001). In addition, six studies found that telehealth services were used more frequently than before COVID-19. During the COVID-19 pandemic, four studies showed restricted availability to in-person general nephrology services, while six documented dialysis treatments disruptions.

The data indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic may have reduced the availability of kidney transplantation, dialysis, and in-person nephrology services. Meanwhile, while telemedicine has developed as a viable alternative to health care delivery, its efficacy during the epidemic merits additional research. The study uncovered significant hurdles in caring for a vulnerable chronic illness population. 

Reference: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nep.14016