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3 simple lessons we’ve learned from our patients about living with kidney disease

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By Andrew Schutzbank, Chief Product Officer at Cricket Health

As a pioneer in innovative kidney care, Cricket Health is on a mission to fundamentally change what a kidney disease diagnosis means for patients and their nephrologists. 

In the year-and-a-half since I joined the Cricket Health team, I’ve heard from providers and patients about how we are doing just that. We recently collaborated with our patients on a video series so they could describe their experiences in their own words – and share their stories with others living with chronic kidney disease. Through the series, we’ve uncovered some key ways Cricket Health can help patients live their best lives, and I want to share those lessons learned.

First, a kidney disease diagnosis can come as a shock, but education can help patients take control of CKD.

Even with 40 years of experience as a registered nurse, Cricket Health member Sandra was not prepared for her own diagnosis with CKD. She described feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about how to start managing her care, and, ultimately, she delayed addressing the disease.

At Cricket Health, we know that engagement and education help patients take charge of their care, which leads to better long-term outcomes. That’s why our program prioritizes educating patients about their condition and treatment options. With educational resources available 24/7, we’re working to help patients feel like launching their care journey is easy and even routine.

It’s also important to us that our tools are easy to navigate, especially for at-risk populations. Cricket Health launched its Medicare Advantage offering with a Texas-based plan, and early results show promising engagement, especially with patients that are over 76 years old.

Since joining Cricket Health, Sandra has become proactive about her care, improving her daily life and prolonging dialysis. “I am prepared,” she told our team. “I don’t have to wait until I’m in an emergency room with someone else making decisions for me.”

 Second, kidney disease requires comprehensive care, and nephrologists simply can’t do everything alone.

It is well known that those with chronic diseases need care that bridges gaps between appointments and daily lives outside the provider’s office. That’s where the Cricket Health team comes in, wrapping around a patient’s existing care team. 

Our personalized, multidisciplinary care team is often the first call for patients, helping them at a time when they need it most. As Cricket Health member James notes, whether he’s checking in with his social worker, nurse, or pharmacist, he feels that he’s getting their focused attention and a personal touch with his care. “With Cricket, it’s nice dealing with people,” he says.

As we saw across the health care ecosystem during COVID-19 disruptions, it’s not about where people get their care from — it’s about the care they are getting. We built the MyCricket™ platform to ensure patients can access their care when and where they need it, helping to serve them and keep their nephrologist in the know each step of the way.

Cricket Health member Sandy’s care team includes a nurse, dietician, and pharmacist, who provide personalized guidance in between his regular visits to his doctors. And when he was getting inconsistent readings on his blood pressure monitors, his Cricket team stepped in to help solve this issue.

By acting as the nephrologist’s eyes and ears between appointments, the Cricket Health care model unlocks opportunities for physicians to provide the care they’ve always wanted to. We’re helping providers be efficient during appointments, meet quality-care goals, and have the peace of mind that their patients are supported – all at no additional cost to their practices. As one provider recently said, “You [Cricket] have a high-touch model of care that is needed for this population.”

Third, disease progression can be overwhelming, but peer support can help patients prepare on their own terms.

Finding a sense of community is immensely helpful for those living with chronic conditions like CKD, especially if their condition progresses to kidney failure. Chronic kidney disease isn’t just hard on the body — patients often describe feeling anxious and drained as they adapt to the daily burden of disease management and face the possibility of dialysis.

Access to trained peer support is at the core of the holistic Cricket Health experience. Each of our members has a dedicated peer mentor who wants to provide advice from someone who has “really been there” and emotionally support others. Mentors might discuss treatment options, personal care needs, and changes to anticipate.

As Cricket Health member and peer mentor Baudelio described, “Explaining to others what our own experiences have been like, so they can understand how we lived through it… then they can start to imagine how they are going to live with it themselves.”

The combination of patient education and empowerment, comprehensive care delivery, and peer support creates a magic formula for revolutionizing kidney care. I have been so gratified to see the difference we have made in the lives of Cricket Health members and the deep partnerships we have formed with their physicians. I’m proud of how far we’ve come, and to help even more people live their best lives as we expand nationwide.



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