People that do dialysis at home fall under two categories:
1. They are doing hemodialysis at home and are extremely wealthy. They would need to have their own nurse or clinician on site to do this and would be using an in-center machine that is set up at their house.
2. They are doing peritoneal diaylsis. This requires a catheter inserted into the abdomen and uses the patient's peritoneum to filter the blood. This treatment can be performed alone but requires storing large quantities of solution at the house and there is always the risk of infection at the access site. In addition the peritoneum cannot last as a filter indefinitely (usually 10 years max and often shorter).
The PHD system can be operated by the patient alone. It has a touchtone screen and has complete self-diagnostics including a connection to the dialysis center reporting the machine's status. It requires a couple of SMALL bottles of solution to clean the machine after use and does this by pressing a button. There is nothing like it out there. Dow said there is large cost savings just in the lower required amount of solutions and cleaners alone.
Baxter plans to launch their Aurora machine later this year but it doesn't have FDA approval and doesn't appear to be the equivalent of the PHD system. I haven't seen or read anything on it but my understanding is that it is a modified in-center machine. CEO Bill Dow said he thought they were two years ahead of anyone.
In addition to the excellent points in the previous post "Why PHD matters", there are a couple of other points that make the system significant.
The first point is that the machine uses a much lower level of consumable supplies for each treatment. Current hemodialysis treatments use gallons of water and solutions. The filter/kidney and all tubing must be disposed (in many cases, the filters can be cleaned--but that is also expensive and error prone). The lower cost of consumables provide the second benefit--the improved therapy benfit of daily hemodialysis versus thrice weekly treatments. If dialysis patients are healthier, then they cost the system less in other medical treatments and they may be able to maintain full-time employment.
This isn't the first machine that can be used at home, but it may be the first machine that can be used by a broader market of ESRD patients. The simplicity of operation, and the ease of setup and clean-up due to the patented methods certainly make it a potential winner.