How does 2D medical animation revolutionise patient education?

Written by Jack Last

2D animations may look like a fun addition to an email, or a warm and reassuring video to play in a patient waiting room (indeed, they are). But in practice, they offer a whole lot more than that. 

In addition to their visual USPs, animations are one of the most effective ways to educate patients. In fact, this content type is renowned for its high levels of engagement, topic retention, topic understanding, and clarity of communication. 

While audiences across the world are already enjoying heartwarming animated movies and fun-filled animated adverts, you may not know that animation also has just as much to offer for the healthcare sector. 

Although it’s a less well-known use case for animation, these videos can unlock huge benefits for medical settings, particularly in the field of patient education. So below, we’re going to delve deeper into 2D medical animations, and how they can improve the way we educate patients about key medical topics. 

In what ways can 2D animation improve patient understanding?

Of course, we all know that animation boasts a charming and playful aesthetic. 

But, among the lesser-known benefits of animated videos is their extraordinary ability to enhance audience understanding and retention.

If you have a key topic that you need to communicate to your patients - be it how to take their antibiotics, what shoulder surgery entails, or anything in between - animation is one of the most effective tools to have in your arsenal. 

By offering 2D animation to your patients, you can foster greater patient understanding in these key areas: 

  • Simplifying complex concepts - animation combines visual, audio and textual elements, into a single harmonious video. As a result, this ensures even the most complicated topics are communicated with clarity and precision. 
  • Enhancing engagement - in terms of engagement, video-based content is leagues ahead of its competitors. In fact, recent research revealed that video-based content has 1200% more engagement than image and text-based content combined. So, it makes animation a fantastic ‘hook’ to get your patients’ attention, and successfully get them interested in this key message. 
  • Illustrating methods or procedures - another critical advantage of animation is its ability to illustrate the ‘impossible’. Using animation, healthcare professionals can illustrate an unending range of procedures or methods, which would otherwise be impossible for patients to see. In healthcare contexts in particular, this is hugely valuable. For instance, animation can be used to illustrate how a drug works in the body, how a virus spreads, what a surgical procedure involves, and countless more. 
  • Increasing retention of information - investing in creating video-based content unlocks far more impressive retention rates. In fact, when watching a video, viewers retain around 95% of its message. In comparison, if they’re just reading text in isolation, audiences only retain around 10% of the message. So by adding visuals to these educational materials, you can achieve far more effective learning. 
  • Encouraging learning through visuals - using visuals is proven to foster far more successful learning. Thanks to the combination of all the benefits outlined above, animation can secure far greater rewards for your educational initiatives. If you have a key message that you need to communicate, animation will ensure that your patients are more engaged, are more likely to understand and remember the topic, and have the opportunity to actually visualise the topic, in all its detail and nuance. 

What are the benefits of using 2D animation for pre-operative education?

The benefits of using 2D animation extend across all areas of medical processes and patient messaging strategies. 

A prime example of 2D animation and its unique advantages can be seen in pre-operative education. 

Increasingly, we’re seeing healthcare providers incorporate a patient education animation explainer video in their pre-operative care process. In advance of the procedure, they send the patient an animated video, which they have specifically created to outline what the procedure involves, the steps that they will take, and how it will treat the issue. 

By using 2D animation for pre-operative education, healthcare providers can: 


  • Reduce patient anxiety - understandably, patients can experience anxiety before a medical procedure. So, you can use this animation (which they can rewatch as many times as they like, in the comfort of their own home) to put them at ease, and help them to see how safe the procedure is.
  • Improve patients’ knowledge retention - as we outlined above, video-based content is proven to achieve higher levels of knowledge retention. So, rather than outlining the procedure (for example) in an email, you can ensure that they’re going through the process with a strong, dependable knowledge foundation. 
  • Foster greater patient understanding - another key advantage that we detailed above, animated content also achieves higher levels of patient understanding. In the example of pre-operative education, animation can be used to actually illustrate what the procedure will look like. Then, other elements (such as preparation for the procedure) can be made more personable and relatable, with human characters going through these processes. This ability to illustrate things that wouldn’t otherwise be possible to see (plus the use of textual, visual and audio elements all in unison) means animation can make complex topics extremely clear for patients to follow. 
  • Ensure the consistent delivery of information - by providing a patient education animation explainer video as part of your pre-operative process, you can ensure these key messages are being delivered clearly, precisely and in full, every time. Plus, it guarantees a consistent experience for every one of your patients. 
  • Make the content accessible for diverse audiences - as animated videos combine visual, audio and textual elements, you can ensure that these key messages are accessible for patients with diverse needs. This includes patients who have English as a second language, are visually impaired, or have difficulty hearing, for example. 
  • Provide a better patient experience - by delivering these key messages in a clearer, more engaging and more helpful way, you can provide better support for your patients during the entire treatment period. 

How does 2D animation help in explaining post-treatment care to patients?

Equally, the addition of a patient education animation explainer video is just as advantageous for post-treatment care. 

After a procedure has taken place, the recovery process can be a big grey area for patients (especially if this is the first time they’ve experienced such a procedure). How long is the recovery period? What are normal symptoms to feel? What should / shouldn’t I do during the next few weeks?

Understandably, this can cause as much patient anxiety as they felt in the pre-treatment stages. 

So, by providing your patients with a post-treatment medical animation, you can give them access to a precise and reassuring educational aid. This clear, informative video can outline every step of the recovery period and what it involves, reassure patients about what is ‘normal’ to experience, and help them to follow best practices for recovery. 

What’s more, some patients may feel very daunted by the idea of having to face this recovery process outside of a hospital, or away from easy contact with their healthcare provider. So, by giving them this video, they can watch and rewatch it as many times as they like. They can even share it with their loved ones, to help them understand what they’re experiencing, too. This is a fantastic way to ensure your patients continue to feel safe and supported, while giving them the confidence to go through the recovery process on their own. 

The other main benefits of choosing animation to deliver post-treatment education include:

  • Simplifying complex information or instructions - animation combines visual, textual and audio elements, to communicate information in an extremely clear, easy-to-follow way. 
  • Improve patients ability to recall - as video-based content achieves dramatically higher audience retention, using animation will improve patients’ ability to recall key details or information about the recovery process. If, for example, they’re out and about, this improved recall ability can be extremely reassuring for them. 
  • Illustrating step-by-step instructions - the animation can precisely, but succinctly, cover all details about the recovery period, keeping patients fully informed and able to follow all these guidelines with confidence.  
  • Clarifying treatment procedures - animation’s trademark clarity of communication makes it ideal for educating patients about the next steps. The animation will answer any questions that they may have, and its use of human characters will provide a relatable piece of content that is both clear and reassuring. 
  • Building trust - with an improved patient experience, and helping them to feel supported and confident throughout, you can foster greater trust in your services, staff and institution. 

How can 2D medical animation reduce patient anxiety and improve their experience?

Naturally, this is one of the areas where medical animation stands to offer the greatest benefits. 

Using 2D medical animation in medical practice settings offers numerous benefits, but alleviating patient anxiety and improving patient experience ticks two big boxes for healthcare providers. 

Not only are these two of the most important areas of focus for healthcare providers (as the foundations of strong, successful providers), but they are also traditionally two of the trickiest areas to address. 

Thankfully, this is another area where animation can offer invaluable assistance. 

2D medical animation can provide support with:

  • Clarifying diagnoses and procedures - giving patients a much clearer understanding of a diagnosis or a procedure they will be going through, answering the most common FAQs in a clear, reassuring and accessible way. 
  • Enhancing knowledge and understanding - building up a stronger knowledge base amongst your patients, with accessible animations that improve their understanding, retention and recall. By doing so, you can increase their confidence in you and the treatment, boost their confidence, and also increase the success of post-operative recovery (as they will be able to act on recovery guidance more successfully). 
  • Reducing pre-operative or pre-treatment anxiety - with more knowledge comes more confidence, and by using an animation to answer all their questions and provide a go-to guide that they can keep referring to, you can help to alleviate any fears of the unknown. 
  • Empowering patients with information - by improving your educational resources, you’re actually giving your patients everything they need to improve their own recovery, answer their own questions, and independently understand the process. 
  • Improving patient care - the combination of all the above results in far greater patient care, and a much improved patient experience. Patients will feel far more supported, relaxed and informed, and their confidence will continue into the at-home recovery period. 

What future advancements can we expect in 2D medical animation for patient education?

Already, 2D medical animation boasts a wide range of sophisticated capabilities. From 3D animation to mechanical animation, this is a creative field that, it’s fair to say, is pretty at the forefront of things. 

But, over the next few years, it’s predicted that these capabilities will advance even further - especially in the field of medical animation. 

In the near future, we can expect medical animation to offer better viewing experiences than ever before, and opportunities to show more complex information in greater depth and precision. 

Three examples of upcoming developments we predict for animations in the medical industry are:

  • Higher quality graphics - With the advancement of graphic design software, 2D animation will continue to deliver increasingly higher quality visuals in the future. With these improved visuals, animation can communicate these key messages and complex topics with even greater clarity and simplification. 

  • Enhanced interactivity - In the future, new digital developments mean that there could be opportunities for further development in interactive elements. This will allow patients to actually interact with the 2D animation themselves, delivering a more meaningful experience, and improving topic clarity. For example, there could be an AR feature embedded within the animation, which allows the patient to see how facial reconstruction surgery would alter their appearance, post-surgery. 

  • Use of AI - This is a major development, which content creators across the board are eagerly anticipating. The rise of AI (and AI technologies becoming rapidly more sophisticated), offers the opportunity to produce content faster, while also increasing the accuracy of educational content, and the complexity of the content that can be included. 

At OK Social, we’re here to show brands that animation isn’t just limited to your childhood cartoons. 

Animation is a medium that offers a huge range of benefits, including many critical advantages that no other marcomms asset can provide. 

By offering patient education animation explainer videos, you can revolutionise not only the way you educate your patients, but also the way that you approach patient support and experiences. 

With these bespoke animations, you can foster greater patient understanding, engagement and retention, give them greater confidence, alleviate anxieties, and improve patient journeys from start to finish. 

So, we reckon it’s time to move on from leaflets. Don’t you? 

Why work with an animation agency like OK Social?

At OK Social, we are a professional animation agency, specialising as a patient education animation studio. 

We are animation specialists, with extensive experience supporting brand’s communication and marketing strategies. In addition to some of the biggest names in healthcare - including the NHS and Lloyds Pharmacy - we are proud to be the chosen animation agency of Coca-Cola, Ford, Deliveroo, and many more. See a variety of the motion graphic projects we have worked on here.

Our skilled team will work with you on a close one-to-one basis, to craft an animation that achieves all your KPIs, and remains fully loyal to your branding. At the same time, our expertise will ensure your animation is bold, eye-catching, engaging and delivers your message in a precise, clear way. 

To learn more about what a patient education animation company can offer your business, or to enlist our team to revolutionise your patient education, don’t hesitate to get in touch

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I’m Jack, the Motion Director here at OK Social. I’ve been working in the world of motion design and animation for nearly 10 years. I had the pleasure of working with leading agencies and brands around the world, such as Samsung, Ford, Shell, Deliveroo, and Starbucks, to name a few.

From a young age, I’ve always been interested in animation, from making stop-motion films in my room as a kid to learning animation on my first computer. It started as a passion and still is to this day. Part of what I do now is more than just animation. I help craft the narratives of the stories we tell to ensure they make an impact to the audience and remain worthy of their attention.

So how do I do that? It starts with asking the right questions, leading to solving the right problems. First, diagnose what the problem is. Then, we can start to see if we can help. I believe that communication plays a key role in delivering a smooth and successful project. Looking into the future, I’m excited to expand my knowledge into creating more engaging stories that make a difference.