It’s become almost instinctive to see something odd or fantastic, pull out an iPhone from your belt holster like a 50’s Western hero, snap a photo and post it online. Now doctors have their own social media app where they can share their odd and fantastic photos.
Figure 1 is approaching maturity in the app world — it’s almost two years old — but it’s still acting like a start-up with huge potential for growth.
The app is a photo-sharing service for physicians and health care providers. Users post images of x-rays, broken bones, CAT scans, disfigurements — anything they deem worthy of peer discussion. The photos then are viewed by the Figure 1 community and a giant, world-wide morning meeting is commenced.
But what about privacy? Hasn’t anyone heard of HIPAA?
Of course. In fact, the creators of Figure 1 got the idea in the first place due to lack of privacy among images being shared online.
“Tens of thousands of times a day patient records and educational images are transferred from healthcare provider to healthcare provider,” Dr. Joshua Landy, co-founder of Figure 1, told TechCrunch. “We were thinking of a way to try and preserve and protect that information in an archive that’s searchable and useful.”
The crew at Figure 1 requires all personal information be removed from images prior to uploading. The app provides tools to help the user remove 19 specific identifiers including: names, facial images, geographic identifiers, medical records, etc. Each image is then verified and approved (or discarded) by the Figure 1 team.
If more consent is required by an office or health care institution, each image has a HIPAA form attached with signature verification required prior to upload.
Now that all privacy I’s and T’s have been dotted and crossed, the medical education discussion can begin.
“It’s classic medicine, digitized,” according to third-year medical resident Sheryll Shipes of Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial, in Texas. Figure 1 debuted in May, 2013 and already over 30 percent of medical students and residents report using the app.
Shipes told Fox News that Figure 1 helped her diagnose a patient’s blisters as a rare skin disorder. “I uploaded it to Figure 1 and someone told us exactly what it was,” she said.
Figure 1 allows users to view most recent images or search by anatomy or specialty. Images range from photos snapped of a well-visit EKG to amputated limbs in an E.R. Cases are presented, questions are asked and answered, problems are solved.
The image above was featured as a recent Figure 1 Image of the Week. A 23 year-old female patient reported a worsening sore throat and difficulty breathing. Could you recognize the life-threatening illness?
The app also provides medical education images for definition.
“Raynaud’s phenomenon is defined by periods of intense vasoconstriction, where blood supply decreases to the fingertips in response to swings in temperature. This phenomenon is classically associated with diseases like lupus and scleroderma, although most patients with this phenomenon do not have either disease,” as defined by the app.
The company, which has raised $6 million in investment, is still pre-revenue but has plans to expand its footprint and add paid features and advertising to the app.