• By Ian Roth

Mayo Clinic Minute: How emojis help cancer treatment, research

February 6, 2018

Treating cancer patients, with all of their symptoms, can be complicated. But a Mayo Clinic study shows communicating how a patient is managing treatment may be as simple as a scale of emoji faces. Dr. Carrie Thompson, a hematologist at Mayo Clinic who led the study, says the results should lead to be better patient care.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:59) is in the downloads. Read the script.

"The scale works really well, and that's one of the things we wanted to determine was, is this a valid scale," says Dr. Thompson. "Is this something that is scientifically proven to say what we think patients are trying to say? And we found that it did, and it works very, very well."

Dr. Thompson says the research looked at how doctors could track their patients' progress using an Apple Watch and an app on their phones. Patients could rate how they were feeling using a scale of five universally recognized emojis.

"Medicine has gotten so complicated," she says. "So to have something that's simple that breaks down the barriers of communication, healthy literacy, language, financial status – we all know emojis. We all know what various faces mean."

Dr. Thompson hopes simpler communication with emojis will lead to better care of patients.

"Getting information in between appointments to accurately know how patients are doing is going to make a big difference," she says. "And, hopefully, then that will lead to providers providing better care."

Review the full study.

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