Why is a medical explainer animation popular?

Anyone who has ever picked up a medical textbook will testify to the fact that imagery of medical procedures isn’t pretty, and certainly isn’t patient friendly.

In fact, to those not involved in medicine or healthcare, most aspects of undergoing treatment can seem daunting and not a little frightening.

This is why when it comes to explaining medical procedures, it’s preferable to avoid real-life imagery altogether and opt for a medical explainer animation instead.

Whether you’re looking to explain the use of a treatment or procedure, what will happen pre or post treatment, or the way a particular drug works and its potential side effects, it will come across in a more friendly and less threatening (or scary) way as an animated explainer.

It is for these reasons that medical animations are becoming increasingly popular among the healthcare industry, the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries, and the NHS where it supports the work of doctors, nurses and other clinicians.

Where and how medical explainer animations are used

There are many uses for a medical animation across healthcare settings. We detail some of these below:

Pre and post-treatment

One use case that’s seeing growth in popularity is managing patient expectations pre-treatment. For most people, undergoing a treatment of any form that involves sedation or going under general anaesthetic can be daunting. Not only that, but there are often guidelines patients need to follow with regard to what they can eat and drink before treatment.

A good example of a use case pre-treatment is prior to intravenous sedation ahead of dental treatment. In a medical explainer video Senate Media created for Kings College Hospital, patients are informed of what to do about routine medication, the need to avoid drinking alcohol and taking recreational drugs, and of the need to be accompanied by an able-bodied escort.

An animated video such as this can be shown by healthcare professionals to patients during a consultation ahead of their treatment, and even emailed or text to them alongside their appointment reminder.

In a similar vein, an animated explainer video can help to explain the risks and benefits of treatment when patient consent is required. 

And they can also be used to tell a patient about their post-treatment recovery. Animation can be used to explain the recovery process, what setbacks they may encounter along the way, and in what circumstances they should get in touch with their GP or hospital if they have concerns.

Where English isn’t the first language

Another instance where the visual medium is useful is for explaining procedures to patients for whom English isn’t their first language. Here, the visual reinforcement of messages can significantly improve comprehension. 

Alternatively, videos can be created with subtitles in different languages to help the target audience with understanding.

Either way, comprehension is likely to be significantly better than if the patient only receives an explanation from the clinician.

Waiting rooms

Waiting to be seen at a GP’s surgery, dental surgery or hospital can be a nerve wracking experience. Many people nervously flick through a magazine to help pass the time.

The installation of digital screens in waiting rooms has become increasingly popular as another way of helping people to pass the time while providing them with useful information. Here, medical explainer animations can be used to deliver public health messages such as reminding people of coronavirus symptoms or to wash their hands. 

Similarly they can be used to highlight the need to check for symptoms of other diseases and conditions that they need to be mindful of and at which point they should book a visit to the doctors. 

Outside of the waiting room, digital billboards – increasingly common at bus stops and railway stations – can be good vehicles for medical explainers with a broad public health message.

Social media

The types of medical explainers best suited to social media are similarly those with broad public health messages, and animations explaining the symptoms of specific conditions.

Senate Media worked with the charity, Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK, to produce an animation that explained Raynauds and its associated symptoms. This was then published on Facebook and Twitter with a call-to-action directing people to an online test. It proved to be a very successful way of raising awareness of the condition.


Medical explainers can also be used for training purposes. Videos are already seen as a useful tool for training, whether in seminars or, latterly, for remote training sessions.

In a medical context, animation can be used to explain complex procedures in a simplified manner.

However, their use is not limited to medical procedures; they can be used more widely to explain processes within a healthcare setting. Our work for King’s College London NHS Trust, for example, involved creating a training video that explained to managers how to approach appraisals.

Return on investment

One factor often overlooked when it comes to medical explainer videos is their ability to provide a return on investment.

We all know healthcare and medical products are expensive. That’s why it is so important to make maximum use of all resources, and why things like missed appointments are so costly.

In some cases cancelled appointments or an unsuccessful treatment, can be the result of patient misunderstanding. For example, they might turn up to a dental sedation appointment having consumed alcohol within the last 48 hours meaning the treatment cannot proceed. If a video can promote understanding and reduce the incidence of cancelled appointments, then that video is providing a return on investment well above the cost of producing it.

What makes for a great healthcare explainer video?

We’ve identified above a multitude of circumstances in which healthcare explainer videos can be used. But for the purposes of what makes a ‘great’ video, we will focus on patient explainers.

The video needs credibility. It needs to be professionally produced, to a high standard such that the patient’s attention is on the messages and not, for example, on poor sound quality. 

In a similar vein, it should not be over-produced. A video that has extremely high production values is going to leave patients questioning why so much money has been spent on it – particularly if it has been produced with public money.

So it’s a balancing act: professional but not showy.

A healthcare video should provide reassurance. Patients will for the most part be understandably nervous before undergoing treatment. So a reassuring tone is essential, and there are two ways in which this can be achieved:

The first is through the visuals. This is where animated medical explainers come into their own, because rather than showing sterile, clinical pictures, an animation can present a colourful, warm environment. The use of friendly looking characters for staff, and relatable characters for patients can also help to provide reassurance.

The second is through the voiceover. Choosing a voiceover artist with a warm, reassuring tone can help to set a patient at ease. It may also be appropriate to select a voice artist with a local accent to further improve relatability.


Another critical facet for a successful healthcare video is to be well understood by those watching it. A patient explainer video will only do its job if, having watched it, the patient’s knowledge of the treatment or process is significantly enhanced. 

Complex medical concepts need to be broken down by simplifying them into easily digestible sections. The visuals need to work in tandem with the voice to help promote understanding.

Medical jargon needs to be avoided, with plain English used throughout. However, for the best results, a medical professional should be involved in the production of the video to ensure it remains accurate at all times despite the need to simplify it.


Any video for the healthcare sector must also be accessible.

There are a number of factors to consider, including:

How we can help you produce a medical explainer

Senate Media has a wealth of experience in health care video production.

We work directly with NHS Trusts as well as the private and third sectors to produce healthcare animations.

If you’re thinking about video but don’t have a solid brief, our team will be more than happy to speak to you to discuss your ideas and help you to formulate a brief, whether you’re looking for a patient explainer for use internally, or something for social media and wider sharing.

Check out the examples of our work and get in touch today.