Tiny Docs: Inspiring a Healthier, Happier Planet

What if we could improve health outcomes with cartoons?

Photo of Sunny Williams
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

As an accident-prone child, I was in and out of hospitals. Each time I visited fear and anxiousness consumed me. Although I was blessed with smart doctors, they were not the best communicators. Many times I felt like they talked at me, but did not connect with me. This communication gap compounded the fear and anxiety that I was feeling. As we left the hospital, my family and I were given a pamphlet, a pamphlet written at a graduate level education. I knew a better way to help.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)

Website

http://www.tinydocs.co

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Illinois

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Chicago

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Illinois

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Chicago, IL , New Orleans, LA, Atlanta, GA

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

When a child experiences a healthcare challenge, his/her anxiety is felt throughout the entire family. Doctors often have trouble communicating with kids, so Tiny Docs exists to bridge this gap and empower families by replacing fear with knowledge. In addition, health literacy is abysmally low in the United States and around the world. Poor health literacy leads to sub-optimal health outcomes and increased costs for healthcare institutions.

The Tiny Docs team has a simple mission - to inspire a healthier, happier planet. The medical world can be intimidating, especially for children, so we’re creating a world full of imagination and wonder, where kids and families can smile, laugh, interact, and most importantly, learn. Tiny Docs provides resources to educate kids and families about health issues in simple, easy to understand language. Our library of cartoons inspire while they educate, replacing fear with knowledge and anxiety with confidence. 

In addition to helping kids and families understand health issues, we are inspiring kids to be whatever they want to be in life. Our lead character is Dr. Patches, a 10-year-old young lady. Her sidekick, Nurse Scrubs, is a 9-year-old boy wonder. We want little boys and girls to do and be whatever they want regardless of gender norms.  

Our video content is created with the help of child life specialists, physicians, pediatric nurses, kids and talented creatives. The panel of healthcare professionals ensure that all our content is medically sound. The kids ensure that the content is relatable and accessible. And the talented creatives ensure that the content is delivered in a fun, creative and entertaining way. 

Our aim is to make a billion people smile in 100 languages. In order to do that we are creating a library that will address a host of health issues. Our animated library will address both surgical procedures and chronic health issues. We'll tackle a multitude of health topics. It's important to us kids and families have access to health information that educates, engages and empowers. 

We distribute Tiny Docs video content on our website and through hospital networks. Imagine a child recently learns that he or she needs to undergo a tonsillectomy. That child can then watch our animated adventure, "Shiver Me Tonsils," while at the healthcare clinic or at home. At home, a child and parent can log onto our site, watch and learn together. Currently, we're working on expanding the number of hospitals that distributes Tiny Docs. 

Armed with education and an understanding of what is going to happen, kids and families can face health challenges with a little more confidence, a little less fear and a feeling of empowerment. 

In closing, I cannot underscore enough that we are not a proxy for the doctor. Instead, we are a resource to help deliver better, quality healthcare services to kids and families. Knowing the kind of information that the child and parents are receiving, the doctor can spend more time addressing pertinent questions and concerns. 

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Children who are differently abled
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Education
  • Other

If you chose "other," please share the sector you work within here:

Healthcare

Year Founded

2014

Project Stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Recently, Steven*, a 7-year-old boy, was about to undergo a tonsillectomy. He was fearful and anxious. His mother was not equipped with the language to allay his fear and anxiety. She needed help. A colleague of hers recommended Tiny Docs to help her family. Steven watched our pilot episode, "Shiver Me Tonsils" many times before his surgery. His mother reported that he calm and collected prior to surgery and handled the procedure like a champion. Robert has fully recovered from his tonsillectomy. HIs mother credits Tiny Docs for his ability to handle the surgery so well. And yes, Steven continues to watch Tiny Docs even weeks after his surgery.

*Steven's real name was changed for the purpose of this story.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In the past year, we have gathered quantitative data from kids, families and healthcare professionals. Many of the doctors who we tested gave awesome feedback about the concept and its impact. Children and families have given it similar praise. In the past year, we have also collected data from healthcare professionals. We asked them to rate on a scale from 1 to 5 the likelihood of recommending Tiny Docs (1 = very unlikely and 5 = very unlikely). The median was 5 and the mode was 4.

The future of Tiny Docs is to help educate kids and families all over the world about many issues surrounding health. Our metric for success is not necessarily dollars and cents; it's health outcomes and smiles. We aim to make a billion people smile in 100 languages. We are in the process of making our animation available in Spanish. We'll begin making content available in additional languages in 2017.

Organization Type

  • for-profit

Annual Budget

  • $10k - $50k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We are a raising a seed round of $400,000 from angel investors. That will enable us to get to a point where we can start generating meaningful revenue and put us on sound financial ground.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

The problem of educating kids and families is being addressed in a couple of ways. One, it is being addressed with medical pamphlets. These pamphlets, however, are typically written at a graduate level education, which way beyond the comprehension level of a child. The second method is comic books. A company called Medikidz creates comic books which educate kids about sundry health issues. Tiny Docs differs from the others in two ways. First, we tell stories through animation which engage not only children, but adults. Second, our stories are designed to build character as well as educate.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

The future of healthcare and children's wellbeing lies in family healing and education. When a child is facing a health challenge it affects not just the child, but every single member of the family. This means that pediatric healthcare solutions must not only treat the child as a patient but also the entire family. The adults are the decision makers for children and they must be informed and educated so that they can make the best decisions for health. In the health media space, media must educate and entertain both children and adults much in the way that Pixar-Disney does.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Facebook

Evaluation results

8 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 25%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 37.5%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 25%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 12.5%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 25%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 50%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 12.5%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 12.5%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 12.5%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 37.5%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 12.5%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 25%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 12.5%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 25%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 12.5%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 37.5%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 12.5%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 12.5%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 75%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 50%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 50%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 50%

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Photo of Doug
Team

Great program aimed at reducing stress and anxiety. More knowledge is always a good thing. It would be interesting to hear more detail on how your goal of a billion smiles drive wellbeing. Best of luck with your project.

Photo of Sunny
Team

Doug Gould Thanks for your kind words. And thanks for the feedback. Happy to share more with you and hear your story as well. Be well. Be great.