CVS Health Corp. recently unveiled an initiative aimed at improving the management of chronic kidney disease (CKD), a costly condition that affects millions in the United States.

CVS’s multipronged program incorporates, among other things, a focus on early disease identification and patient education. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 million people in the U.S. have CKD. But many of them don’t realize it.

“Often, kidney disease has no symptoms until it’s pretty advanced,” Jennifer Martin, vice president, program development at the National Kidney Foundation, tells AIS Health. “That’s why it’s so important for people to talk to their doctor and get tested, especially if they’re at risk.”

According to CVS, CKD represents a huge cost burden, costing Medicare nearly $65 billion a year for chronic kidney disease care, and another $34 billion directly related to dialysis patient care.

Martin explains that kidney disease cannot be reversed or cured, but if people find out early, they can work with their health care team to manage it and may be able to prevent it from progressing to kidney failure.

Part of CVS’s initiative includes a comprehensive home dialysis program that includes a clinical trial for a home hemodialysis device that CVS Health plans to submit to the FDA for market clearance.

“The home hemodialysis device we are developing has been designed with features intended to make home hemodialysis simple and safe for patients, in order to facilitate longer, more frequent treatments,” says Bruce Culleton, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer, CVS Specialty.

He further points out that this program expands the breadth of CVS’s enterprise assets, including home nursing, long-term care centers, pharmacy locations and payer relationships.