Discarded Kidneys Increase and Why a Messaging App May be Part of the Solution

InteliSpark client, OmniLife, formerly HealthTech Solutions, Inc., wins a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for phase II of their project in developing a mobile application for secure team communication, tailored specifically for kidney transplant teams. Researchers will also utilize machine learning (ML) to incorporate clinical decision support for surgeons in the app’s capability.

Kidney transplants are life-saving and cost-effective for many patients suffering from kidney disease and diabetes. But the kidney discard rate in the United States has significantly increased from 5.1% in 1988 to 19.2% in 2009. Over 100,000 patients remain on the kidney transplant waiting list, but 3,159 donated kidneys were discarded in 2015.

Co-founders of the startup OmniLife, Dalton Shaull and Eric Pahl, both of whom witnessed the organ donation process in their personal lives, set out on a mission to discover the reason for discrepancy between number of organs donated versus the number of organs utilized. By shadowing transplant coordinators, surgeons, and physicians, Shaull and Pahl were able to better understand the organ transplant process and find areas to significantly improve communication between Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) and Transplant Centers. They realized that poor communication was one of the biggest challenges in the organ transplant process.

This led to the creation of a secure messaging app to streamline communication between stakeholders. Dr. Robert Emery led a team of researchers to tailor the app specifically for kidney transplant teams in phase I of their NIH funded, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project. 

In phase II, researchers will test and evaluate the app’s ability to improve donor management, coordination processes, and kidney utilization outcomes. Advancing to phase II funding is a key milestone in bringing this potentially life-saving technology to market.