The Kidney Foundation of Canada

Dr. Paul Ronksley

Dr. Paul Ronksley

University of Calgary, AB

Predicting emergency department use among patients receiving hemodialysis care

Co-applicant(s): Marcello Antonio Tonelli; Eddy Lang; Chandra Thomas; Matthew T. James; Brenda Hemmelgarn

2018-2020:  $100,000 |  Biomedical Research Grants  |  Category: Dialysis

Lay Summary

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects approximately 10% of the Canadian population and places patients at high risk of requiring acute medical care for related health problems. Patients living with CKD are among the highest users of acute care medical services given their level of illness. This is particularly true for those with kidney failure who require dialysis as a life-sustaining therapy. Research has shown that patients that are dialysis-dependent are frequent users of emergency department (ED) and acute care hospital services due to their chronic medical conditions and its complications. While the ED is essential for providing urgent care in a timely manner, identifying ways to improve efficiency, improve patient experience, and decrease ED wait times have been recognized as research priorities by both patients and health policy makers.
The goal of our research is to identify hemodialysis-dependent patients at greatest risk of having an ED visit which is potentially preventable. We will use clinical and administrative data sources from Alberta to develop a tool to identify those at highest risk. Upon development and testing of the performance of this tool in Alberta, we will then assess the generalizability of this strategy in another group of patients from British Columbia.
Identifying ways to improve quality of life and health outcomes has been identified as a priority among patients receiving dialysis care. There is also a need for accurate tools to identify patients at highest risk of using the ED to potentially reduce the strain that is currently placed on this portion of the healthcare system. This project has the ability to identify high-risk hemodialysis patients that may require additional care to not only reduce unnecessary ED use but to improve patient experience, quality of life, and health outcomes. 


Paul Ronksley, PhD is an Assistant Professor and health services researcher in the Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary. He has a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Calgary and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Epidemiology at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Dr. Ronksley has considerable experience in the use of administrative data and data linkage methodologies to study health system use and outcomes among patients with chronic kidney disease. He is a member of the Alberta Kidney Disease Network (AKDN), a co-investigator within the Interdisciplinary Chronic Disease Collaboration (ICDC), and devotes 75% of his time to health research.