Advancing Care for Patients with Liver Disease

April 1, 2015 Kris Kowdley, MD

The burden of liver disease continues to increase in the USA and worldwide. An estimated 5-7 million people have chronic hepatitis B and C and more than 20% of the US population has nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Liver Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The CDC and US Preventive Services Task Force recently issued screening recommendations for hepatitis C in the “baby-boomer” cohort, namely those born between 1945 and 1965. Part of the reason to identify patients with hepatitis C is that dramatic new advances have been made in treatment, with more than 95% of patients able to achieve a cure with the recently approved all-oral regimens for as little as 8 weeks.

The Swedish Liver Care Network is uniquely positioned to advance the care of patients with liver disease via research, population health efforts, education and training via partnership with the extensive Providence Network, which serves the health care needs of a large number of patients in Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Montana and Alaska. This includes integration of care delivery between Swedish Medical Center as the quaternary hospital for liver care, including liver transplantation and the regional affiliated hospitals within our health system. Our goal is to establish best practices for liver care across the Providence system, to ensure that patients with liver disease will receive the same care across our medical centers, to bring cutting-edge clinical and translational research to our patients and to educate health care providers on liver disease diagnosis and treatment.

The Swedish Liver Care Network works closely with the Swedish Digestive Health Network, the Swedish Organ Transplant Program, the Swedish Organ Care Research Program and Providence Clinical Program Services to implement hepatitis C screening guidelines, increase access to clinical trials in fatty liver disease and to increase awareness about liver cancer screening among providers in our community.

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