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How Offer Filters will help more kidney patients, faster

Innovation: FEATURE

How Offer Filters will help more kidney patients, faster

New tool gets the right kidney to the right patient at the right time

“Every day you wake up and you’re like, is today going to be the day?”

Sejal Patel is no stranger to waiting. A two-time kidney transplant recipient, Patel has spent nearly four years of her life wondering when her transplant team will call with good news.

“Every day you wake up and you’re like, is today going to be the day?”

Sajel Patel, kidney transplant recipient

Sejal Patel

Pictured with her late dog Ruby, who along with her family, brought her comfort through both kidney transplants.

“It puts your life on hold for a while.” Patel waited a year to receive a kidney and pancreas in 2009. When that kidney began to fail, she was pre-emptively listed again in 2019. Patel spent most of 2021 on dialysis before finally getting a second transplant in November.

“I got a phone call at 2:00 AM for my second one. I looked at my phone and thought it was a spam call,” she says. “For some weird reason I decided to answer it.” Both times, Patel says hearing the news was a shock.

Having been through the entire process twice, Patel is excited to hear that a new tool will get lifesaving kidney donations to patients quicker.

Better transplant outcomes

Now available to all kidney programs, the free, data-driven, multi-criteria organ offer filtering tool aims to increase kidney utilization by helping transplant professionals match the right organ to the right patient, faster.

“We hope the program will reduce the cold ischemic time for organs, protecting them and ensuring a positive result on accepted organs,” says UNOS business architect Rob McTier, who has been leading the UNOS team in collaborating with the community to develop the tool. Cold ischemic time is the amount of time an organ is preserved in cold storage while it is traveling or waiting to be transplanted.

Years in the making, the Offer Filters tool will bring transplant programs valuable information about their organ acceptance habits, and give them the option to filter out organ offers they don’t intend to accept. Those offers can then go to hospitals more willing to accept them, saving time in the offer process. Offer Filters achieves this by mining data from years of accepted organ offers and processing that information with groundbreaking new analytics tools.

“The UNOS research department has developed a model that examines a kidney programs past organ acceptance behavior, and comes up with recommended filters for the program,” says McTier, “and those are really just intended to be a starting place for a program.”

This new technology was made possible through extensive collaboration with the community. The idea for Offer Filters came from a meeting between Dr. Kenneth Andreoni and UNOS CTO Alex Tulchinsky, and it was developed with input and feedback from dozens of transplant programs across the country.

Video

Right kidney. Right patient. Faster.

Get an overview of how it works.

Improvement through analytics

The tool provides more to a transplant program than just the ability to filter out unwanted offers.

“It’s not all about receiving fewer offers, it’s about transplant programs leveraging big data analytics to shed light or insight into their decision-making practices and changing decision making towards the best interest of their patients,” says Darren Stewart, principal research scientist at UNOS. The filters accomplish this by showing hospitals how the offers they rejected are being used by other transplant programs.

“We have also found that centers who used Offer Filters didn’t perform fewer transplants. Volumes were unchanged and we found efficiency went up for transplant hospitals that used Offer Filters,” Stewart adds.

Those conclusions were reached during the pilot program for Offer Filters that launched in the summer of 2020. Thirty-four programs participated nationwide. From August to December, participants had 60 percent of organ offers filtered out. Despite receiving 206,933 fewer organ offers over the course of 98 days, the number of transplants performed by each hospital remained largely the same.

Helping more patients

Offer Filters was developed with a single goal: help more patients receive a lifesaving transplant. McTier hopes that Offer Filters will do just that.

“If we are placing the organs more quickly, then, hopefully patients are getting a higher-quality kidney that doesn’t have as much time on it, so that’s going to improve outcomes.”

Kidney recipient Sajel Patel knows what it's like to wait

Offer Filters goal
Help more patients receive a lifesaving transplant

Every year tens of thousands of people spend their days waiting for a call from a doctor with news that a kidney is available for them. Sejal Patel’s transplant last year could become a valuable data point that leads to someone else getting that call sooner.

It’s something Patel is excited to be a part of.

“I think it’s great because I felt like I was just constantly waiting, and asking when was my turn?”

Read more

Learn more about how the Offer Filters tool was developed, and how it can fuel further improvements in transplant.

Pilot program results

98 days

pilot program duration, Aug. to Dec. 2020

34 programs

participated nationwide

60%

organ offers filtered out

206,933

fewer organ offers, but the number of transplants performed by each hospital remained largely the same

“It’s not all about receiving fewer offers, it’s about transplant programs leveraging big data analytics to shed light or insight into their decision-making practices and changing decision making towards the best interest of their patients.”

Darren Stewart

UNOS principal research scientist

“If we are placing the organs more quickly, then, hopefully patients are getting a higher-quality kidney that doesn’t have as much time on it, so that’s going to improve outcomes.”

Rob McTier, UNOS business architect

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