I’m fascinated by the Figure 1 app. It’s the Instagram for the medical profession, creating a way to safely share & discuss clinical cases. It has also become a forum to showcase the vagaries & oddities of the human body in a scroll of crowdsourced chronicles. Today, I’m following 3 cases — a patient with tuberous-sclerosis, a patient with an edematous rash that is dry & pruritic who needs a diagnosis (comments are offering thoughts & questions), and a nurse practitioner who is polling for anomaly identification — comments quickly identified as a dual ureter system.
Posts can be graphic & difficult to view. @jessiwrites who wrote about the app for Fortune, noted that the images could “make your stomach turn”. Ashley Feinberg @gizmodo said that it, “approximates the fruit of an unholy union between Instagram and the Discovery Health Channel.” And it’s true that your finger can just as easily pause at a gaping wound from an unfortunate encounter with a fuchsia bush, as a vivid polycystic kidney — just #lichenification for truly “never seen by most people, not sure we should have seen that” images. Yet there are also strangely lovely things to ponder, like the fluro imaging of a stomach with a deep sea moodiness, complete with jelly-fish like creature, or melodic-esque cardiac stress test results.
Co-founder Joshua Landy is an MD from Toronto, and reflecting his commitment to patient care & privacy, the app has elegant medical, safety, consent & privacy solutions. Only medical professionals can post photos and make comments, and these are verified by a medical officer and moderation team prior to posting. The rest of us can only view their content. For compliance, users must sign a one-click, one-signature waiver with every photo. There are also only body parts, no recognizable faces, due to a face detection software that blacks out identifying features. However, I’ve noted that the community tends to self-govern on this with care taken to show the area of medical interest only. The patient consent element is an in-app “tap, type & sign” form. This app is technologically sophisticated.
Figure 1 is currently available in North America, the UK, Ireland, Australia & New Zealand. The US community has more than 145,000 users, exceeding 30 million views since its May launch, so spending time with the medical minds here is good medicine for informing any healthcare perspective. Or diagnosing a nagging itch.