While recipients of living donor kidney transplants receive steady follow-up care, the living donors themselves also need to be monitored. To make follow-up care more accessible, UC San Francisco and Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (Nasdaq: WAG) are collaborating to launch the first program in the country that provides blood pressure testing at no charge to living kidney donors.
UCSF will provide vouchers for blood pressure tests redeemable at more than 4,500 Walgreens pharmacies and Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens locations nationwide. Vouchers also are available to potential kidney donors, as blood pressure testing is a part of the initial screening process.
Tests are available daily during pharmacy and clinic hours with no appointment necessary and administered by health care professionals at Walgreens pharmacies and Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens.
"The use of living donors has revolutionized kidney transplants, and this new program provides the opportunity to monitor their long-term health in a convenient, efficient way," said John Roberts, MD, professor of surgery and chief of UCSF Transplant Service and former president of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). "UCSF performs the most kidney transplant procedures in the United States, and we are pleased to be first to join with Walgreens in this effort that we hope encourages people to donate as there is a critical need."
In February 2013, UNOS and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) approved new policies to create consistency in how transplant centers educate, evaluate and track living kidney donors. These guidelines include required kidney function tests at six-, 12- and 24-month intervals, with blood pressure checks likely to be incorporated into that same timeline.
Because many living kidney donors are healthy and may not live around the transplant centers where their procedures were done, it can be difficult to provide blood pressure information to the transplant center. As the nation's largest drugstore chain, Walgreens is an accessible, community health care resource with health care professionals routinely administering blood pressure tests, as well as other health testing services.
"Regular health testing is one of the best ways for people to manage their health, and when it comes to blood pressure, it's important for living and potential donors to know their numbers because detection of abnormalities can be critical," said Meen Kang, PharmD, Walgreens senior director of transplant. "Our pharmacists, and the Healthcare Clinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are an accessible community resource providing blood pressure testing daily as part of Walgreens commitment to help the transplant community get, stay and live well."
Test results are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the absence or presence of any health condition. With patient consent, Walgreens will securely electronically transfer the test results to UCSF weekly. UCSF will recommend that a patient with test results outside the recommended range contact his or her primary care physician for follow up.
Established in 1964, the kidney transplant program at UCSF has performed more kidney transplants than any other hospital in the world and currently does about 350 annually. UCSF transplant medicine officials estimate the blood pressure testing program could help roughly 130 living donors and hundreds of potential donors annually.
Both UCSF and Walgreens see the new living donor voucher program as an opportunity to help living kidney transplant donors in an easy, convenient way through trusted community health care professionals.
"This new program, in collaboration with Walgreens, is practical and has the potential to help monitor donors and potential donors and make sure they remain healthy," said Melissa Parente, kidney transplant manager at UCSF. "UCSF has had a very impactful relationship with Walgreens, and this is another advance in that relationship."
The kidney donor blood pressure testing collaboration follows the February 2014 opening of a Walgreens "Well Experience" store on the UCSF campus. The new store offers a number of pharmacist-led health and wellness services, including those aimed at improving medication safety, helping patients use medicines more effectively, and other programs and services to help lower overall health care costs. Walgreens at UCSF is located across the street from UCSF Medical Center.
UC San Francisco (UCSF), now celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding, is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences, as well as a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco. Please visit http://www.ucsf.edu.
As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2013 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens vision is to be the first choice in health and daily living for everyone in America, and beyond. Each day, in communities across America, more than 8 million customers interact with Walgreens using the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with online and mobile services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The company operates 8,217 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Walgreens digital business includes Walgreens.com, drugstore.com, Beauty.com, SkinStore.com and VisionDirect.com. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that manages more than 400 in-store convenient care clinics throughout the country.