Synergy Pharmaceuticals launches emoji app to prompt conversation on bathroom habits

By Heather Mack
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There is a basic bodily function that all people have, yet most do not want to see, hear or smell – let alone talk about. But bowel movements are an important indicator of health, and for the estimated 33 million Americans living with Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC), discussion about their bathroom business is critical to finding the right treatment plan, as well as politely communicating to friends and family what they are going through.

To prompt regular discussion of irregularity, Synergy Pharmaceuticals is launching an educational app that features a team of animated emojis called The Poop Troop. It is exactly what it sounds like. The free keyboard app, available on the App Store and Google Play, features a cast of anthropomorphic turds representing different stages of the bowel movement continuum, from constipation to normal to diarrhea. Each character is also animated to visibly display the emotions that people with CIC often associate with each, such as stress, embarrassment or relief.

The aim of the app, which is part of Synergy’s Confront Constipation initiative, is to spark more productive conversations in hopes of improving treatment. Synergy focuses on research and development of new therapies for a range of gastrointestinal conditions, so the app could help people with CIC and their doctors better understand how they are responding to medication.

“Maintaining an open dialogue with your healthcare provider is one of the first steps to developing an appropriate treatment plan for CIC,” Kimberly D. Orleck of the Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates said in a statement, “These emojis are not intended to serve as a diagnostic or a medical tool, however the Poop Troop may provide patients with a more comfortable, visual way to communicate their physical symptoms and related state of mind to their healthcare provider, which then may lead to more productive conversation around their health and CIC treatment goals.”

The Poop Troop app also capitalizes on the growing reliance on or preference for emojis when words just don’t cut it, and provides a code for people with CIC to effectively get across to friends and family what’s going on without having to use any dirty words, or to invent elaborate or dismissive excuses as to why they don’t feel comfortable participating in a certain activity or event.

“Many people with CIC feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about their symptoms with those closest to them, so they often suffer in silence,” Synergy’s Senior Marketing Director Julie Holcombe said in a statement. “Our hope is that the Poop Troop can help make difficult conversations easier for people with CIC, while raising awareness around the impact of CIC beyond those living with this complex disorder.”

While not a diagnostic tool, Poop Troop app serves as a sort of medicalized version of the beloved smiling poop ubiquitous in many everyday digital conversations, advertising and even the physical world of household décor or clothing. But people with CIC aren’t always smiling, so they need a fleet of emojis that can capture a range of emotions. They may not have the formidable presence of the Patrick Stewart-voiced Poop character in the upcoming Emoji Movie, but between the Poop Troop’s eight players – like Left Out Lumpy,  Miss La Poop, Ploptomistic Peter and Mr. Smooth – they may have the range.