More than 90,000 new digital health applications (apps) were added to app stores every year since 2020—that’s an average of more than 250 new apps every day. As of July 2023, more than 350,000 health apps are available from the various app stores. (Deloitte 2023).

Digital health apps range from providing a platform for services such as virtual doctor appointments and chronic-disease management to consumer health apps that help people manage their own health through tracking daily steps and accessing exercise and nutrition programs. So what explains the rise of digital health apps and the role of animation within them?

Digital health apps were vital to people seeking clarity and stability during the pandemic, and animation has played a crucial role in delivering information online.

During the pandemic, becoming increasingly aware and anxious of our health was inevitable. There was, and stubbornly remains, a ‘double digit rise in all of the top five presenting problems from depression to addiction’ (Royal College of Psychiatrists 2022). There was also an increase in relationship problems as demonstrated through e.g. domestic violence.
With face-to-face meetings restricted and symptom checking becoming a daily routine for many people, health apps appealed to those of us who wanted to regain a sense of empowerment – equipping us with understandable information in a familiar environment, available all the time.

As technologies such as AI and wearable devices continue to advance, health apps are only set to increase in popularity, with the market predicted to reach almost £800 billion in value by 2025 (Research and Markets 2023). The type of apps available are incredibly diverse, apps that track your mood and sleep, to ones that allow users to schedule appointments and manage prescriptions, to digital journals that incorporate CBT.

While there are 100’s of health apps available for each category, the downloads for each are heavily skewed. With 83% of apps garnering 5,000 downloads collectively, and just 110 of apps at the top of the charts accounting for 10 million users combined. The question arises: what does a health app need for people to invest in it?

People entrust in health apps that support them to empower themselves, and to achieve this, an app needs to connect with the user, be reliable, and present information in a clear manner, directing users to the knowledge they need and cut down the “learning the ropes stage” of the app itself.

And this is where creative animation is key. Animation is incredibly dynamic and can be repurposed for many audiences. Once created it becomes part of a bespoke digital asset bank. It’s used initially to promote the app via social media. Obviously used as content as part of the app itself (e.g. new physical techniques, or the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. And as part of a rating mechanism for example ‘streaks’. Branded animation is part and parcel of the big players such as (Insight, Calm, Headspace, School of Life) but are also being introduced by private clinics as part of psychoeducation (All Points North) and by private therapists such as Esther Perel.

Animation is just one part of an apps’ success but plays an essential part of a multi modal approach to reach out to and engage users. The success of animation lies in its ability to help people visualize processes that are impossible to comprehend with words or video alone, and reach people’s emotions on a deeper level.

If you’d like to more about animation health and wellness please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Warm wishes,


Benefits of animation

  • Animation is accessible, especially via social media, and completely free to air for people who require it (via mobile phones).
  • Animation can reach cohorts who struggle to read and write, eg those with a neurodivergence (20% of the population) and/or SEND (15% of the population).
  • Animation can be translated to reach people for whom English is not the first language.
  • Waiting times for CAMHS and community mental health services is typically months – from script to screen, an animation can be created in two weeks, making it ideal for ‘disaster’ work.
  • Animation voiceovers can be quickly translated and revoiced in any language at a rough cost of only £1000.
  • While the initial animation can cost about £10k, subsequent digital copies are completely free (unlike print). Small amendments to ‘end slates’ to, for example, localise helpline numbers cost very little, so one trauma video can be used 10,000 times nationally at pretty much no extra cost.
    • Animation works brilliantly across all social media channels so it’s instantly and freely accessible and provides a ‘language’ for the person and their caregivers to understand what’s going on.
  • Still images can be taken from the animation and used within other collateral. For example, a dozen still images can be laid out in front of a child, enabling them to choose which image from the animation spoke to them (a good way to introduce tricky subjects, eg sexual abuse).