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.
As a senior motion designer on the Patient Education team, I create explanimations and educational programs to help patients with kidney disease make informed choices about their health and treatment options.
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...
While at DaVita, I created an animated, educational program to help nephrologists educate their patients. The program is designed for patients who have kidney disease, but their kidneys have not yet failed. Doctors use this explanimated program to educate patients on preventative measures (diet and lifestyle changes) to keep their kidneys functioning as long as possible and to explain what to expect if their kidneys do fail and dialysis or kidney transplant is needed.
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 other motion graphic designers/illustrators and sometimes 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 further describe exactly what I created.