Kidney Health Initiative Toolkit


scroll to learn more


User Research & Patient Interviews
Visual Design
Interactive PDF Design


A tool kit which provides the design inputs for innovators to use as part of a $4+million X-Prize competition hosted in Summer 2023

A major portion of the evaluation framework for awarding $4+ million in X-Prize award funding

Helping Innovators Focus on User Needs

Sunrise partnered with the American Society of Nephrology to stimulate the next generation of innovative solutions to kidney failure. It started with a fundamental question: “How can we comparatively evaluate a broad spectrum of innovative technologies like xenotransplants, grown tissue, electro-mechanical pumps, and implantable bionic kidneys?”

Our answer was: a framework that evaluates the technology’s ability to transform the lived experience of patients and care partners towards “an experience which is indistinguishable from being cured”.

Sunrise Labs - blue rectangle

Bringing Innovators and Patients Together

As part of the Kidney Health Initiative, the American Society of Nephrology is invested in driving innovative user-centered therapies that improve outcomes for people living with kidney disease. Sunrise Labs designed tools to help developers of kidney replacement therapy technology understand the life experience of people with kidney failure. We believe that when these two groups connect based on empathy, transformational clinical outcomes and disruptive technology become possible.

A Roadmap for Success

To do this, Sunrise modified a framework based on a psychology model that has been applied in many fields: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is intended to help guide innovators to redefine the range of the problem space available for innovative solutions. The framework discusses patient motivations at each level of the hierarchy that are specific to kidney disease, starting with the incremental and moving to the innovative and transformational. This ensures that a new chronic kidney disease solution can be measured based on patient impact as opposed to measuring solutions by their technical merit alone.

Keeping Patients Top of Mind

To understand the needs specific to patients living with Chronic Kidney Disease, we interviewed roughly 20 patients with stage 4 or 5 kidney failure and a range of characteristics like age, financial situation and health literacy. Key quotes were pulled from the interviews and were sorted by theme to create representative patient profiles. Each profile contains real patient quotes that identify the key outcomes that are important to them in living with kidney disease. These can be used as tools to help medical innovators build empathy with patients and understand the outcomes that are important to them.

Universal Design Principles for Kidney Failure Innovation

Building on the problem statements identified by patients, Sunrise used our expertise and experience in innovation with kidney disease as well as other medical products to create universal design principles. These can be used to judge the merit of solutions for kidney disease regardless of the technical specifics of the solution. This can encourage innovators and those providing funding to focus on the outcomes that are important to patients.

The toolkit is the beginning of an important empathy journey for the innovators and offers the opportunity to reset the definition of innovation within the kidney disease space.