Fabricio Pamplona

The Power of Visuals

By Fabricio Pamplona, Ph.D.
Fabricio Pamplona

Infographics can propel MedTech research and campaigns and enhance the user experience. Here Fabricio Pamplona, co-founder of online infographic maker for scientists Mind the Graph, explores the power of visuals in MedTech and medical communication.

According to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, humans forget approximately 50% of new information within an hour of learning it. When communicating any product or message, MedTech companies want to leave a lasting impression on their audience and ensure proper usage. So, how can they achieve this?

Research suggests we are much better at learning content from pictures than text. The human brain processes images around 60,000 times faster than text—it takes only 13 milliseconds for the human brain to process an image, and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.

The picture superiority effect tells us that images are also more memorable than text. Three days after reading text, we can remember 10% of information but when combined with an image, we are likely to remember 65% of that information. Images can help companies attract attention, communicate concepts quickly and easily and even influence decisions. So, when marketing a new medical device or piece of technology, images will often deliver the most impact.

Creating Impactful Infographics

Infographics can be used to break down complex medical concepts to help people understand risks, indications and instructions for use more quickly and easily. For example, visual instructions of how to operate a glucose monitor patch are far easier to understand than text-based instructions.

Hepatitis C infographic

Consider this example. A manufacturer begins marketing a newly approved line of syringes designed for intravenous therapy purposes and is reaching out to local healthcare facilities and patients. When supplying a batch, the manufacturer could attach an infographic to the standard product guide, outlining the various features and injection techniques. By presenting this information as images, manufacturers can better engage with their audience and enhance understanding.

When designing infographics, color theory is important. Colorful posters on walls and vibrant graphics in product pamphlets are inviting and encourage people to engage with the content.

Color Theory Basics

There are three types of colors represented in the color wheel: primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. Primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors to create green, orange, and purple. Tertiary colors are made by mixing primary and secondary colors and include blue-green or red-violet. Designers should choose color combinations with opposing hues on the color wheel to create a bold yet inviting design. Keep in mind that while contrasting colors work well in design, using too many distinct colors in one design can make your graphic look cluttered and distract from the text. Similarly, saturation is an effective tool when employed for highlights or areas of emphasis. However, using too many deeply saturation colors can cause a jet or rainbow color map.

Different colors also evoke varying emotions. For example, blue evokes trust, and red suggests urgency—traffic lights and warning signs have taught us that. Therefore, red encourages patients and other readers to stop and take in the message being presented to them. Readers also tend to associate colors with different topics or concepts. For example, blue and red on a heat map cause the audience to think of cold and hot.

Generally, the best infographics start with a strong concept and take-home message, are organized visually, and use effective figures and artwork styles. The concept comes first and defines the main message and target audience. When producing infographics, it’s important to be concise and direct, using minimal words. The aim is to let powerful graphics do the talking to convey the story you are trying to tell.

Educating and Inspiring

So far, we’ve looked at visuals from a manufacturer-consumer perspective, but medical illustrations can benefit in other ways. For academics presenting their research or giving lectures in class, grabbing the audience’s attention is half the battle. Attractive slides that highlight key information and catch the audience’s attention go a long way in helping you deliver a memorable message. Infographics are particularly effective for poster presentations.

Using photographic images for posters and lectures might seem like the go-to option, but good photos that explain medical procedures and scientific detail are hard to come by. In addition, when illustrating procedures such as surgeries, graphic photos can compromise the audience’s recollection and distract them from the science behind the image. However, attractive illustrations and graphics are eye-catching and easy to understand—the ideal staple in any PowerPoint slide deck—and there are a growing number of medical- and healthcare-focused graphics available for use today.

About The Author

Fabricio Pamplona