A Healthy Dose Of Emoticons

Today’s emotional lexicon

Emoticons are everywhere. They are part of our everyday lexicon and have even become a means of self-expression. The term “emoticon” is derived from the combined words “emotion” and “icon,” and they are a graphic way to express feelings such as happiness, anger, or surprise. Emoticons are a quick way to express our moods. Instead of providing an entire line of text to tell someone you're unhappy, a simple graphic of an expressive face can tell the recipient exactly how you feel. 

A new way of speaking: graphically 

If our personal communications involve graphic symbols that portray our emotions, how do we leverage this to drive healthy behavior? One way to consider using emoticons is as positive encouragement to take one’s medications. Think of how the various kinds of emotions might help patients stay on their medicine, which might, in turn, help them stay out of the hospital. The right emoticon can say a lot. It’s simple and meaningful. It can communicate being proud of someone’s behavior, or that you’re angry that your mom forgot to take her pills. It can express that you’re worried because you’re caregiving from afar. This simple emotional icon can do a whole lot to lift someone’s spirits, get them to think differently about something that they might have forgotten, or simply put a smile on their face. It’s code for feelings.



Faces of support

Thinking about how to leverage feelings that enable support is an area of opportunity for devices and platforms. Recently, a new connected care device called Spencer launched. This device is a friendly medication management system that connects the care team—from patient to caregiver to pharmacist—to ensure that patients are managing their medications. The word “friendly” is critical in this descriptor because Spencer has a face and a personality. The faces are emoticons that communicate three states of compliance: the rested state, the happy state, and the displeased state. When the patient misses a dose, Spencer sends out a red, pouty face and a very brief message reminding both patient and caregiver that a dose has been missed. Conversely, when patients are on track with their daily doses, they receive a Spencer smiley face to communicate that the patient is having a healthy day.

This telegraphic system for communicating will make the app and the device work together to ensure that patients are staying on track with their daily health routines while keeping the care team informed of the patient’s progress. 

It will also make it easier to approach the management of multiple medications.

An emoticon is worth a thousand words 

In a time when there’s a new way to share feelings, why not leverage this to help impact behavior in a positive, healthy way?

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