New machine designed to streamline dialysis

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Millions of kidney patients face the same unchanging ritual four hours a day, three days a week hooked to a dialysis machine. (KGO-TV)

Millions of kidney patients face the same unchanging ritual, four hours a day, three days a week hooked to a dialysis machine. A Bay Area startup believes it can streamline that experience.

They started rolling out a new dialysis machine known as the Tablo, designed to work something like a smart phone app, according to Leslie Trigg, CEO of Outset Medical in San Jose.

"So we first took a look at what dialysis machines look like today and then thought, how could we re-imagine it if we were a Google, or an Apple," says Trigg.

The answer centers on a touch screen interface, which they say allows patients to set up the dialysis session themselves in about 10 minutes. The interface includes an audio test to make sure patients can hear any alarms. It then runs through a checklist to make sure they have all the supplies they need for dialysis.

"Then we're ready to start the treatment. That involves opening up the front door and placing a cartridge, which is kind of a one handed operation on the front of Tablo," Trigg explains.

Once it's set up, they say patients may still want a technician to help insert the catheter into their vein. But chief medical officer Luis Alvarez says the goal is to shorten the wait times at dialysis centers by allowing patients more control more of the process themselves.

"With our interface it makes it a lot easier for patients. They know how much fluid they want to remove and have the ability to adjust that fluid removal in real-time during therapy," says Dr. Alvarez.

Once patients start becoming comfortable with the Tablo, the company believes it could eventually enter into to the expanding home dialysis market.

"We think a number of people are going to want to consider doing dialysis at home," says Trigg.

A choice they believe could also be made more practical, with the help of their patient friendly interface.

Written and produced by Tim Didion.
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