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Preview of the user interface for a blood glucose meter. Shows the use of emojis across different screens

Why emojis are important for user experience

Published: July 2023

Zoe Hill
Zoe Hill, Marketing Lead

With us all being more digitally connected, communication has become increasingly visual and concise, and emojis have emerged as powerful tools for expressing emotions and conveying messages. While emojis are often associated with casual conversations, social media interactions, or added to be somewhat decorative, their importance extends beyond that. In the world of medical devices, emojis can significantly enhance user experience. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why.

Simplifying complex information

Medical devices, particularly those used by patients, can be complicated and overwhelming to understand. Emojis provide a way to simplify complex information, making it more accessible and relatable. By using relevant symbols, such as a heartbeat emoji to represent vital signs or a pill emoji to indicate medication, users can quickly grasp the meaning without relying solely on technical jargon. This simplification enables patients to navigate their medical devices confidently, reducing anxiety and improving confidence.

Providing an empathetic user experience

Emojis are known for their ability to convey emotions, and in the context of medical devices, emotions play a significant role. Patients may experience a wide range of emotions while using medical devices, including fear, frustration, or relief.

LifeScan has found a solution and uses ‘emoji power to help and engage people with diabetes to monitor their blood glucose readings’.

OneTouch Verio Reflect user interface and emoji ’empathetic mentor’

Its ‘Empathetic Mentor’ as part of OneTouch Verio Reflect listens to a user and provides personalised feedback, guidance and encouragement. By understanding user needs and using principles of gamification and motivation, its rewarding interactions bring moments of reflection or encouragement, adding meaning to blood glucose results.

Implementing this fun and interactive experience not only provides a better user experience but sets LifeScan apart from the rest of the blood glucose test market.

Encouraging patient engagement and adherence

Patient engagement is crucial for the successful management of medical conditions. Emojis can play a key role in encouraging engagement and adherence to treatment plans. By incorporating positive emojis, such as a smiling face or thumbs up, medical devices can provide positive reinforcement and encouragement when users perform necessary tasks like taking medications, measuring vital signs, or adhering to treatment protocols. These simple visual cues can motivate patients, reinforcing their commitment to their health and fostering a sense of accomplishment.

medical user interface showing easy to interpret dynamic range indicator

OneTouch Verio Reflect user interface showing easy-to-interpret emoji dynamic range indicator

When taking blood sugar readings on the Verio Reflect, the ‘colour sure dynamic range indicator’ helps indicate if someone is nearing a low or a high. When in range, the device provides positive reinforcement through the emoji; with the smile varying through the range.

Overcoming language barriers

In our globalised world, medical devices are used by people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Emojis have the unique ability to transcend language barriers, enabling users to convey their needs and concerns effectively. A thumbs-up emoji, for example, has a universal meaning of approval or understanding. By using emojis, medical devices can overcome language limitations and ensure clear communication, irrespective of the user’s native language. This inclusivity can prevent misunderstandings that may impact patient safety.

Additionally, it is important to acknowledge that emojis can be interpreted differently by various age groups, which can impact the effectiveness of their use in medical devices.

For instance, millennials and Gen Z, are more familiar with the nuances and meanings associated with different emojis. They may readily interpret a specific emoji as intended, allowing for seamless communication and engagement.

On the other hand, older generations, such as baby boomers or the elderly, may not be as well-versed in emoji usage or have a different interpretation of certain symbols. While they may still benefit from the visual cues provided by emojis, it is essential to consider their generational context and provide clear explanations or alternative means of communication to ensure accurate understanding.

To accommodate these differences, thorough user research and testing should be conducted when developing a device.

Enhancing communication

Medical communication between patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) may soon feature more emojis. In recently published research from the University of California, it found that emojis can potentially replace language in surveys that can be hard for some patients to understand, improving patient comprehension and response rates.

Emojis also offer a means for users to communicate their feelings to HCPs.

Enabling user-friendly interfaces

Medical devices often require user interfaces that are intuitive and user-friendly. Emojis can contribute to creating such interfaces by providing visual cues that are easy to recognise and understand. Instead of relying solely on text or complicated icons, the use of emojis can make interfaces more approachable and intuitive, particularly for individuals who may have limited technical knowledge or cognitive impairments. They can simplify navigation and reduce user errors. Like LifeScan mentions, emojis can be helpful to people new to blood glucose monitoring.

The integration of emojis into medical devices will play an increasingly vital role in ensuring empathetic, inclusive, and user-centric healthcare experiences.

Want to know more about integrating emojis or improving user experience with medical devices?

Then take a look at the case study which explains more about the work we did with LifeScan.  

Or contact us, we’d love to chat!

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