The development of dialysis by early pioneers such as Willem Kolff and Belding Scribner set in motion several dramatic changes in the epidemiology, economics and ethical frameworks for the treatment of kidney failure. However, despite a rapid expansion in the provision of dialysis - particularly haemodialysis and most notably in high-income countries (HICs) - the rate of true patient-centred innovation has slowed. Current trends are particularly concerning from a global perspective: current costs are not sustainable, even for HICs, and globally, most people who develop kidney failure forego treatment, resulting in millions of deaths every year. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop new approaches and dialysis modalities that are cost-effective, accessible and offer improved patient outcomes. Nephrology researchers are increasingly engaging with patients to determine their priorities for meaningful outcomes that should be used to measure progress. The overarching message from this engagement is that while patients value longevity, reducing symptom burden and achieving maximal functional and social rehabilitation are prioritized more highly. In response, patients, payors, regulators and health-care systems are increasingly demanding improved value, which can only come about through true patient-centred innovation that supports high-quality, high-value care. Substantial efforts are now underway to support requisite transformative changes. These efforts need to be catalysed, promoted and fostered through international collaboration and harmonization.