The past two years have brought with them heightened feelings of confusion, uncertainty and loneliness for many people.
In an increasingly fast-paced world, emojis – like the ever-popular smiley face – have crept into text messages, tweets and emails.
Shuhan He, MD, an MGH emergency physician, says he hopes to take emojis even further by making them a bigger part of patient-provider communication and the electronic health record.
Last week, He took a major step toward that goal after two digital icons he helped create – an anatomical heart and a set of lungs – were among the 117 new emojis to be rolled out to all smartphones later this year.
He says there has long been a desire – inside medical circles and on social media – to see an accurate-looking heart and lung in the emoji lexicon. He and his co-authors used that information to pitch their pictograms to the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit organization that meets every year to review applications and vote on the newest emoji submissions.
“Chest pain and shortness of breath are two of the most common complaints we hear in the emergency department,” says He. “There are times when a patient can’t communicate that, either because of a language barrier or for some other reason. And in situations when seconds count, emojis like these could help us greatly.”
Emojis aren’t just a hobby for He. With a dual role as a physician and the associate director for the strategic alliance initiative through the Center for Innovation in Digital HealthCare, He is sharply focused on the ways the cartoon-like emoticons could help improve patient care and outcomes.
“We’re interested in working with leadership from all departments to ensure emojis stay clinically relevant for our patients,” says He.
He says he also hopes his two new emojis and any future medical emojis will benefit patients by educating them about heart and lung health, vaccinations, antismoking efforts, medication adherence and other lifestyle interventions.
- Jan | 20 | 2022
“MGH rocks.” “I ‘heart’ nurses.” “I love you.” These are just some of the messages the MGH Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) staff have received in cards from their families since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Dec | 22 | 2021
In March 2020, the Horvath family’s world was flipped upside down. Only 10 days after the first statewide COVID-19 emergency closures were instated, then-8-year-old Colby was diagnosed with B lymphoblastic lymphoma.
- Dec | 17 | 2021
As a postdoctoral research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at the MGH, Mike Datko, PhD, spends much of his time listening to the sounds that MRIs produce.
- Dec | 17 | 2021
While the holiday season is often called “the most wonderful time of the year,” it can also be one of the most wasteful.
- Dec | 14 | 2021
What started out as a thank you to staff at the start of the pandemic is now a seasonal tradition for Enid Cruz, a customer service representative in MGH Mail Services.