Miao Hui, Duoduo Zhang, Lili Ye, Jicheng Lv, Li Yang

Digital Health Interventions for Quality Improvements in Chronic Kidney Disease Primary Care: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

  • General Medicine

Background: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a significant public health issue globally. The importance of its timely identification and early intervention is paramount. However, a systematic approach for early CKD management in the primary care setting is currently lacking, receiving less attention compared to upstream risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension. This oversight may lead to a failure in meeting quality-of-care indicators. Digital health interventions (DHIs), which leverage digital tools to enhance healthcare delivery, have shown effectiveness in managing chronic diseases and improving the quality, safety, and efficiency of primary care. Our research aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of DHIs in the care process, focusing on their reach, uptake, and feasibility. Methods: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, and ClinicalTrials.gov for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing DHIs’ effectiveness in CKD patient care among adults in primary care settings. The search, conducted on 30 June 2023, included studies published in English from 1 January 2009. Screening was conducted using Covidence, adhering to Cochrane’s guidelines for data extraction. We primarily evaluated changes in care processes (testing, documentation, medication use, etc.) and the use of renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system inhibitors (RAASi), referrals, among others. Multilevel meta-analysis was employed to address within-study clustering, and meta-regression analyzed the impact of study characteristics on heterogeneity in effect sizes. Clinical endpoints were recorded where available. Bias risk was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2 tool. Data on reach, uptake, and feasibility were narratively summarized. The study is registered with PROSPERO (CRD42023449098). Results: From 679 records, 12 RCTs were included in the narrative synthesis, and 6 studies (encompassing 7 trials) in the meta-analysis. The trials indicated a −0.85% change (95%CI, −5.82% to 4.11%) in the proportion of patients receiving desired care. This result showed considerable heterogeneity (I2 = 91.9%). One study characteristic (co-intervention, education) correlated with larger effects. Although including co-intervention in multivariable meta-regression was significant, it did not diminish heterogeneity. The reported reach varied and was not high, while the uptake was relatively high. Most studies did not explicitly address feasibility, though some statements implied its evaluation. Conclusions: The current literature on the impact of DHIs in community-based CKD care is limited. The studies suggest a non-significant effect of DHIs on enhancing CKD management in community settings, marked by significant heterogeneity. Future research should focus on rigorous, methodologically sound implementations to better assess the effectiveness of DHIs in the primary care management of CKD.

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