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Taking Down Goliath

By Daniel Foster06 Jul 2023

MEI is an unassuming acronym, but appearances can be deceiving...

As a nonprofit, MEI (Medical Education Institute) is dedicated to helping people with chronic disease learn to manage and improve their health. Given the scope of chronic disease in this country, this is a true David and Goliath story, but recently, some recognition has come MEI's way in the form of two Digital Health Awards.

Most of us have felt the cold touch of chronic illness, whether personally, or vicariously through someone we love. Even when surrounded by those loved ones, chronic disease can be terrifying, and this is precisely the negative pall which MEI combats.

Our own Debbie Brouwer Maier sits on the board at MEI, and she was kind enough to put us in touch with Dori Schatell, MEI’s Executive Director. Dori is an instantly likeable person with a rare distinction—complete assurance of the worthiness of her day job. As she explained to me, they must bring down Goliath, and they will do so by empowering the patient.

…Empowering them, apparently, in award-winning ways…

The first award goes to: Ready-Set-Home eClasses. As a patient-centric organization, MEI has maintained a policy of totally-free content on at least one platform, so traditionally, that has meant a small heap of pdfs on the net. Statistically though, most kidney dialysis patients access the internet solely through a smart phone rather than a desktop. Traditional webpages and classes do not work well on phones, so MEI is converting all of their content. However, this “conversion” is far more than new wrapping paper on an old gift. The classes have been rebuilt, which means they are graphically heavy, interactive, and generally optimized for information consumption during the time (for random example) that someone might spend in a dialysis chair.

The next award goes to: My Kidney Life Plan.

My Kidney Life Plan is an evidence-based decision aid for people who need to choose a renal replacement therapy. Perhaps their kidneys have been failing for some time and they can feel dialysis creeping up on them. Or maybe they’ve crashed into dialysis as unexpectedly as a truck hitting a tree. Regardless, the patient is often left feeling trapped and helpless, and the reason is simple: fear.

When diagnosed with a serious illness, be it ESKD or cancer, a person may endure a plethora of negative emotions, but fear is the primal driver for all of them. And fear is paralyzing.

So when the time arrives to make critical decisions about kidney replacement therapy, fear can choke the power of decision, or create denial, or both. That lands nearly everyone in the dialysis chair because a frightened patient feels safer letting someone else take care of them.

Clinical protocol treats these difficult choices as though survival is all that matters. But it isn’t. If you choose a particular therapy, will you still be able to walk your dog, or exercise at all? What will you be able to eat or drink? Will you be able to work, or possibly lose your job, even end up homeless?

My Kidney Life Plan is a tool that helps patients determine which treatment/s best match the life they need. It puts the power of decision back into the patient’s hands.

As darkness is dispelled by light, so is fear dispelled by hope. MEI knows that hope is a clarifying reassurance. It steadies and strengthens. At Transonic, we understand the power of reassurance. We build many devices that provide it, not only for patients, but for clinicians as well. Our HD03 Monitor assists the dialysis care team in detecting a dysfunctional hemodialysis catheter, AVF or AVG. Our cardiovascular flow measurement devices provide quantitative data so that a surgeon can be assured of patency, not just palpate and hope that a CABG graft is flowing sufficiently.

We congratulate MEI not only on their awards, but on their intentions and their continued efforts. The medical battlefield is filled with giants like chronic disease. Tackling them one at a time is the only path to a better future. We’re glad to fight side-by-side with organizations like MEI.


Thanks for reading,

                Transonic Systems, Inc.

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