Q&A with Luminations Storyteller, Laura Vitez O’Donnell

I sat down with Laura Vitez O’Donnell, Director of Content & Storytelling at D2 Creative and creator of Luminations, to discuss her and her team’s innovative approach to patient education.

What are Luminations?

Luminations are short, sharable patient education videos that make abstract science easy to understand and less intimidating.

I initially conceptualized the Luminations approach while working on an e-learning program that required me to find a way to “bring to life” abstract concepts for a pharma sales force. We immediately saw how this approach could benefit patients, and so we started working with patient advocacy organizations to provide patients with important content on abstract or complex topics in a more approachable way.

How Does Animation Help Cancer Patients Better Understand Their Journey?

At first glance, these videos may look elementary, but they convey some pretty complex science.

Let’s face it: cancer is a hard subject—both educationally and emotionally. When patients receive a cancer or other serious diagnosis, many experience overwhelming feelings that cloud their ability to absorb information and make sound decisions about their treatment.

First and foremost, we want patients to feel comfortable learning about their cancer. We like to say we “take out the scary” to make the subject very approachable with lighthearted character animation. We even add a bit of levity—not to make light of their cancer in any way, but to help diffuse negative emotions. If something is making you smile, you don’t turn away. And any humor is always at the expense of the cancer cell characters.

Here’s an example: We’re working with CancerCare to create a library of educational videos for patients and caregivers. You can see in these videos how we use the animation to quickly convey the concepts.

HER2 in Cancer

Breast Cancer Screening and Risk Factors

How are Luminations Different from Other Animated Patient Videos?

All learning happens through connection. Luminations honors this by using visual metaphors to help ground abstract and foreign concepts in relatable and memorable references. My favorite comments are from people who say they really understand something for the first time after seeing one of our Luminations.

We also differ because we use a hand-drawn approach. A lot of the animation you see online is created from drag-and-drop toolkits, which makes everyone’s work start to look the same, similar to what happened with the deluge of whiteboard animations. Our work is completely custom, so we can animate any situation imaginable.

Can Other Realms of Life Sciences Benefit from This Approach?

Absolutely. Luminations can be applied across disease states and across audiences. We sometimes adapt pieces for different patient audiences and for clinicians. For clinicians, we eliminate some of the more rudimentary content and then add scenes to go into greater depth on some of the science.

Luminations can be used to support clinical trial enrollment and to explain new scientific breakthroughs to investors, employees, and other interested parties. They’re also good for “breaking open” a difficult topic on a web page. I always tell our clients to give us the hardest and most abstract concepts. There’s no need to do a Lumination when something can be easily explained in text.

See More Examples

Visit Luminations.health to watch more of the Luminations content we’ve created for organizations like Stand Up To Cancer, the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, Pfizer, and more.

When Was the Last Time You Updated Your Company’s Social Media Profile?

Many organizations spend time and money populating their social media accounts with content hoping to attract new users and keep them engaged. However, there may be a bigger issue with your social media presence you’re not considering: How long has it been since you updated your company’s social media page?

If your company profile or content contains outdated information, doesn’t include the best tags and keywords for your industry, and doesn’t give people a clear call to action, then you’re not making the best first impression with new visitors who are seeing your page for the first time. If your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy isn’t strong enough, people may not be able to find your profile in the first place.

Example: Optimizing the Social Media Presence of an International Biotech Society

D2 Creative has been working with the experts of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) for years. Not long ago, they engaged our team to optimize the EMBS YouTube channel with the goal of accelerating the growth of the audience.

We looked at the existing content on their page and added relevant tags so that the videos ranked higher in search results. We also added clickable cards at the end of each video that directed the viewer to specific content, based on the topic. We organized playlists made up of multi-part videos for seminars and conferences so that viewers could easily find and watch entire events. Finally, we added a watermark logo to the bottom of all videos that, when clicked on, allowed the user to easily subscribe.

These steps all encouraged viewers to consume more content, engage, and subscribe.

EMBS had long recordings from their many seminars. Videos with an especially lengthy run time were segmented into chapters in the video descriptions for easier consumption. Viewers can click the timestamp on the tracker or in the description and jump directly to the segment they want. Adding chapters in video descriptions also gave us an opportunity to include more keywords for higher ranking potential.

Another implementation D2 Creative introduced to EMBS is custom video thumbnails. No matter how compelling your content is, if it doesn’t catch the eye of someone scrolling then they’re not going to click. We added a cohesive look to the channel by creating templates for the different types of content posted most regularly. Color coordinating them allows a user to easily identify which video corresponds to which topic, and gave us the chance to inject some of their brand into the channel.

Is Now the Time to Update Your Social Profile?

The EMBS YouTube channel has flourished since the revamp. In a report on activity from June-August 2021 versus August-October 2021, views have increased by 38.74%. Subscribers have increased by 2.93% with a watch time increase of 21.26%. Overall, impression rates increased by 16.49% and EMBS can assume these practices will only help their channel grow even more over time.

Read more about our social media optimization work in the case study.