Online support for people affected by kidney disease
About the project
People who suffer from kidney disease do significantly better when they understand their condition. The Kidney Patient Guide is an ongoing experiment in delivering high quality online support and information to people affected by chronic kidney disease. Originally funded by an award from the Wellcome Trust, and established in 1999 with Dr Peter Rutherford, and healthcare consultants the Balance of Care Group, the site has been maintained by Cogapp on a pro-bono basis ever since.
Every year it serves hundreds of thousands of people whose lives are affected by kidney disease. With over 3,500 registered users, the Kidney Patient Guide (KPG) has a thriving online community, with a total of more than 60,000 posts, relating to 4,000 topics. Its peer-to-peer sociability has spilled over into a number of real world events. The site is also used and recommended by many professionals in the field and we receive numerous requests every year from health educators for permission to use the animations in their training materials.
One of the reasons for the site’s long-term success has been its patient-centric perspective. We started off the project very much focussed on communicating the underlying medical processes involved in renal medicine. These are vitally important and our Simpsons-style animations present the information in an accessible form. But working with Dr Rutherford’s colleagues and patients at the Wrexham Maelor Renal Clinic it quickly became clear that living with kidney disease involved considerations that go far beyond the purely medical. Issues like mental health, holiday arrangements, financial matters and even cookery, all play a key role. By including these topics as well as the medical information we’ve been able to build a resource that serves the whole patient.
In July 2007, KPG was named a key source of information in its sector by NHS Choices. In the summer of 2009, we gave the site a design refresh and significantly improved its navigation.
The Kidney Patient Guide won the Freshest Not for Profit Gold Award at the Fresh Digital Awards in autumn 2009.
A new version launched in 2021
The original version of the Kidney Patient Guide was richly illustrated with animations and interactive features implemented in Adobe Flash. But Flash is no longer supported and the web now expects sites to be responsive across a wide variety of devices.
To make sure that the KPG can continue to serve its users, Cogapp undertook a complete refit in 2020. All the animations have been reimplemented in Tumult Hype a modern HTML5 animation system. All the content has been refreshed, including new information about COVID. Finally, the user interface design has been reworked to make it responsive across mobile, tablet and desktop devices.
A long-term asset for the NHS
We are tremendously proud of our work on the Kidney Patient Guide and the service it has provided to the NHS and the wider worldwide community of renal patients. It is not often that you get a chance to do a project that extends from one millennium to another!
Given that the KPG has served millions of people, and that the original project grant from the Wellcome Trust was less than £20,000, it must surely be one of the most cost-effective medical information services in history.
If you would like to find out more about the Kidney Patient Guide or talk to us about ideas for any related projects, please get in touch.