Using the emojis to address language barriers with an App supporting chronic disease self-management

Isabelle Skinner1

1Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia, 2Decision Support Analytics Pty Ltd, Darwin, Australia

Introduction: This presentation will describe the process of developing a library of emojis to communicate the complex health and lifestyle issues associated with self-management for people with Type 2 Diabetes.

Background: Globally, more than 415 million people have Type 2 Diabetes. With effective lifestyle interventions these people can significantly reduce their risk of complications. Diabetes affects people from all language groups and in all regions of the world. However, many of the people affected have poor access to diabetes educators to support goal setting and provide follow up education, motivation and support services for lifestyle change. Yet, the technology to reach people in even the most remote parts of the world is available using the mobile phone.

Project: A team from Charles Darwin University, Decision Support Analytics, Diabetes WA and Healthy Living NT have used the available evidence of effective goal setting and diabetes self-management to inform the development of an App for people with Type 2 Diabetes. To make the App universally accessible, language differences were addressed by the innovative emoji pictorial library designed for the project. In the first 3 weeks of release the App emojifitDiabetes has seen exponential growth and has been downloaded by people in 24 countries.

Conclusions: The language to communicate cross culturally exists with emojis, Harnessing them and developing a new library to serve the needs of health has made diabetes education accessible to people all over the world.




Isabelle Skinner is a Fellow of CRANAplus, she is a Registered Nurse and Midwife. Isabelle’s research and development work has involved using the Internet to overcome the tyranny of distance for health care delivery since 2000 when she was the first Telehealth co-ordinator for the Kimberley region.  Isabelle worked on the Kimberley Telehealth woundcare project for her PhD. Her current work is in the development of Apps to address chronic disease self-management.