Missing Care: the Initial Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on CKD Care Delivery

Clarissa J. Diamantidis, David J. Cook, Stephan Dunning, Cyd Kristoff Redelosa, Martin Francis D. Bartolome, Roland Albert A. Romero, Joseph A. Vassalotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common condition with adverse health outcomes addressable by early disease management. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on care utilization for the CKD population is unknown. Objective: To examine pandemic CKD care and identify factors associated with a high care deficit. Design: Retrospective observational study Participants: 248,898 insured individuals (95% Medicare Advantage, 5% commercial) with stage G3–G4 CKD in 2018 Main Measures: Predicted (based on the pre-pandemic period of January 1, 2019–February 28, 2020) to observed per-member monthly face-to-face and telehealth encounters, laboratory testing, and proportion of days covered (PDC) for medications, evaluated during the early (March 1, 2020–June 30, 2020), pre-vaccine (July 1, 2020–December 31, 2020), and late (January 2021–August 2021) periods and overall. Key Results: In-person encounters fell by 24.1% during the pandemic overall; this was mitigated by a 14.2% increase in telehealth encounters, resulting in a cumulative observed utilization deficit of 10% relative to predicted. These reductions were greatest in the early pandemic period, with a 19.8% cumulative deficit. PDC progressively decreased during the pandemic (range 9–20% overall reduction), with the greatest reductions in hypertension and diabetes medicines. CKD laboratory monitoring was also reduced (range 11.8–43.3%). Individuals of younger age (OR 1.63, 95% CI 1.16, 2.28), with commercial insurance (1.43, 95% CI 1.25, 1.63), residing in the Southern US (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.14, 1.21), and with stage G4 CKD (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.17, 1.26) had greater odds of a higher care deficit overall. Conclusions: The early COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a marked decline of healthcare services for individuals with CKD, with an incomplete recovery during the later pandemic. Increased telehealth use partially compensated for this deficit. The downstream impact of CKD care reduction on health outcomes requires further study, as does evaluation of effective care delivery models for this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4241-4247
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number16
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • COVID-19
  • chronic kidney disease
  • epidemiology


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