Issue 2
Monday, 13 March 2017
Charles Darwin University
Professor Timothy Skinner with the emojifitDiabetes app
Professor Timothy Skinner with the emojifitDiabetes app

Emojifit app reaches out to improve health

By Leanne Miles

A new app aiming to help people better manage Type 2 Diabetes has been launched by two health researchers at Charles Darwin University.

School of Psychological and Clinical Sciences head Professor Timothy Skinner and Associate Dean Research and Research Training Professor Isabelle Skinner have created “emojifitDiabetes” to help create lifestyle change and assist people in remote communities.

Professor Timothy Skinner, who has been working in diabetes care for more than 20 years, said setting goals for lifestyle change was one of the most difficult things for people to manage. He said he was frustrated with how difficult it was generally to support people from remote communities.

“The app is for people who have Type 2 Diabetes, who are often told to change their lifestyle to prevent the disease from becoming more serious,” he said. “It helps with managing anything from medication to diet and exercise.”

To ensure the app was user friendly the researchers partnered with a designer, D’Arcy Ellis, to translate health concepts into pictograms.

“In the process we developed a new library of health emojis that include emotions for food, activity and some related to medical procedures and concerns,” Professor Skinner said.

He said the app would help people prioritise, gain confidence, and also get support from family, friends and their health care team to keep moving forward with change one step at a time.

“The variety of changes people need to make can often become overwhelming, and while most people start off well, some lose motivation, often from trying to change too many things at once,” he said. “The app is designed so that people can tailor a plan to their most important health concern.”

For the first-of-its-kind app, Professor Isabelle Skinner – who also runs Darwin-based technology start-up company Decision Support Analytics – said the pair had worked with a team at Apple to integrate their new CareKit modules for developers to enable people to share their plans securely with friends and family and the health care team partners.

“We hope that people with diabetes will feel able to take charge of their own goals and be supported to achieve them,” she said. “Life is busy; the app provides friendly reminders for people that they set a goal to exercise five times this week, or to reduce snacks between meals.”

For more information or to download the app visit W: or the Apple App Store.

The app was funded and developed by Decision Support Analytics with support from the Department of Trade Innovation and Business.