We spoke with Peter Rutherford, MB BS, PhD, FRCP, vice president of Worldwide Medical Affairs for our Renal Care business, about his experience as a practicing nephrologist and his quest to improve global access to kidney care and patient outcomes.
Professor Rutherford practiced nephrology and internal medicine in the United Kingdom and the United States, while also researching, teaching and serving as a medical director of a National Health Service Hospital. He then joined Baxter as the medical director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa between 2007-2015, returning to the company in 2021 as a vice president of Worldwide Medical Affairs for our global Renal Care business.
Chronic Kidney Disease affects 850 million people worldwide. An estimated 10 million have reached end stage kidney disease and require dialysis or organ transplantation,[i] but only a fraction have access to the care they require. Professor Rutherford is leading efforts to change that dynamic by simplifying dialysis therapy and improving time patients spend on therapy.
Q: Why did you choose to go into medicine and specifically nephrology?
Professor Rutherford: I was drawn to medicine by my interest in science — how the physiology of kidneys can predict pathology — and in the clinical practice of treating patients. I also credit having a great mentor in the field who modeled how to properly care for patients and the importance of being a lifelong learner.
Q: What inspired you to transition from practicing medicine to working for a healthcare company?
Professor Rutherford: My experiences in caring for patients and working with industry helped cultivate a keen focus on the need to drive greater patient education and shared decision-making programs. These steps are essential to a patient’s successful management of their kidney disease but are rarely prioritized in care models. I also find it very rewarding to be able to help shape research programs, clinical trials and the development of new kidney care products and digital health platforms that remotely manage home care for patients around the world.
Q: What makes your work in Worldwide Medical Affairs at Baxter interesting?
Professor Rutherford: My responsibilities are diverse across our peritoneal dialysis (PD), hemodialysis (HD) and digital health platforms that support the care journey of patients with kidney disease. Some days I work with teams to ensure regulatory compliance of our medical devices. Other days I deliver medical education, meet with practicing physicians one-on-one, advise on commercial programs and support new product development. I also review recent research, which helps inform our thinking when designing new clinical trials.
Q: What are the most impactful initiatives your team has been working on in the past two years
Professor Rutherford: The past two years have brought unprecedented challenges to kidney care including the COVID-19 pandemic that put kidney patients, who are immune compromised, at an even greater risk. During this time, a significant amount of our effort has gone to helping patients access home care where they can be empowered to maintain their therapy and social distance more easily.
Simultaneously, our medical affairs team has moved some pivotal new studies forward that explored the role of innovation in helping improve patient outcomes. These studies help us understand and validate the direction of our product pipeline work. For example, recently published data now confirm patients’ time on therapy can be lengthened with the use of a connected system, specifically a remote patient management platform.[ii]
Every day my team helps patients with kidney disease to make choices about their therapy and then gain access to safe and effective care is a good day. That’s what motivates us!
[ii] Mauricio Sanabria, et al. "Time on Therapy of Automated Peritoneal Dialysis with and without Remote Patient Monitoring: A Cohort Study", International Journal of Nephrology, vol. 2022, Article ID 8646775, 7 pages, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/8646775.
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