DaVita Kidney Care

Patient Education

Dec 2016–Present
What I dO
  • Storyboarding
  • Illustration
  • Animation
  • Character Illustration & Rigging
  • Sound Design
  • Graphic Design (educational handouts)
  • Script Writing
The Situation

One in seven people in the US has kidney disease. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys can no longer filter wastes and extra fluids from the blood.

Unfortunately, many people don't know they have kidney disease until they need lifesaving treatment: either a kidney transplant or dialysis. For dialysis treatments, patients are connected to a machine that cleans their blood. Treatments are typically four hours, three times a week.

Living with kidney disease is a major–and terrifying–adjustment. Patients need to absorb an overwhelming amount of new information about treatments, fluid and diet restrictions, infection prevention, transplant possibilities, and more.

The Solution

As a motion graphic designer on the Patient Education team, I create explanimations to help chronic kidney disease patients. These animations are designed for patients' first 90 days of dialysis treatments.

Storytelling. When watching a live-action video, we subconsciously make assumptions about those in the video or try to compare ourselves and our own situations. Yet, we resonate with people and love a good story. Animation eliminates this distraction while still allowing for storytelling. My team weaves stories into our character-driven animations to make situations more relatable to patients.

I illustrate and rig (i.e. get ready to animate) all of the characters, and take on a significant amount of the character animation. I created empathetic, friendly, and slightly whimsical characters that our patients can relate to. The topics we discuss in our animations are serious, so while the characters have a fun nature, they are not overly cartoony or childish.

Visual metaphors can be an effective way to communicate complex topics in an easy to understand way.

For example, we needed to explain how the dialysis machine filters toxins and extra fluid from the blood. Rather than try to explain how a dialysis machine works, I came up with this simple visual to illustrate the concept.

Another example, is the kidney wind-up toy (in the section above). This visual was used to show how the treatment option discussed in the video would keep any remaining kidney function the patient may have going and going.

Edu-tainment. Most of the time, these educational animations are shown to patients while they are in a clinic receiving dialysis treatment. Patients are connected to a machine that cleans their blood over a period of about 4 hours. During this time, patients can read, watch TV, listen to music, and many nap as treatments can make them sleepy.

Our educational animations need to be entertaining in order to capture patients’ attention. We are constantly pushing the boundaries of entertainment to foster engagement and help patients remember the content of our videos.

Sometimes unexpected things happen...

The result

Educating patients about kidney disease and its treatments empowers them to make healthier choices, enhancing their quality of life. By explanimating information in an easy to remember, friendly, and entertaining way, patients are more engaged in their care and may show better clinical outcomes.

At DaVita, I work as part of an awesome team with another motion graphic designer/illustrator and a content/script writer. The pieces of projects posted here are selected because they are entirely or mostly created by me. I'm happy to describe exactly what I created if asked.

More Work

© Megan Friesth 2019