A Canadian-based start-up has developed a new healthcare app called Figure 1 that is becoming known as “Instagram for doctors.”
Instagram is a popular Facebook-owned image sharing app that allows users to share selfies, food photography and other little snapshots of their lives with the world.
Figure 1 has a similar premise, but rather than sharing everyday images with the public, the app is built for doctors wishing to share images of diseases, injuries and other medical pictures to better diagnose their patients with help from doctors around the world.
“Medicine has always used asynchronous communications such as pagers or phones. Now we want to help people share images, enabling more eyes on more cases, but with privacy and learning in mind,” Figure 1 co-founder Dr Joshua Landy told the UK press.
Privacy is often a huge roadblock when it comes to the sharing of data in the healthcare sector, and the start-up has done its best to address this issue.
Those uploading to the service must follow strict guidelines: patient faces, text, numbers or any identifiable marks are not allowed and the app features built in image editing tools so any rule-breaking aspects of an image can be removed.
Doctors must also obtain consent from the patients themselves before uploading any image to Figure 1 – they can sign digitally on screen to do this or sign a paper form tailored for the country the patient is in and this is then kept by the doctor not the patient.
Images are not uploaded immediately as all must go through a strict approval process of manual review – images that aren’t of educational value, have identifiable marks or breach the terms of service are rejected.
Each image is also stripped of metadata that could be used to identify the patient.
Although anyone can join Figure 1 and look at the images, only medical staff such as doctors, nurses and other medically trained personnel can become “verified.”
Verification on the app means the start-up has contacted a hospital or suitable authority database to confirm someone is a genuine medical professional.
The app is currently available in just under 100 countries, including North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe.