Sometimes doctors don’t have all the answers. When you know that there’s something wrong with you but your doctor can’t find anything wrong, what happens? Most doctors will consult books or colleagues in order to try and figure out what’s happening with your body. Sometimes, though, that doesn’t even work.
Then what? A new app out of Canada wants to answer that question by providing doctors with a way to consult with other members of the medical community - even if those people live in other countries.
The Figure 1 App
Figure 1 allows doctors with iPhone or Android phones to share images and questions about certain ailments and diseases with other doctors around the world. Doctors have been doing this kind of sharing for some time now, but it’s often hard to track down a doctor that may have the answer to a patient’s needs if that doctor is in India, for example. This is where Figure 1 hopes to help.
The Figure 1 app looks and operates much like Instagram. Doctors can use the app to snap photos and share images with other doctors around the world. Doctors can use their real names or choose to use a name that’s a screen name. Either way, the results are roughly the same. Figure 1 allows anyone to download the app, but only doctors and other medical staff that have been verified by the company can answer questions or comment on photos.
A Growing App
So far, Figure 1 has been verifying many different doctors from more than 40 unique countries. Thousands of doctors per day are signing up for the service. In order to keep patient information private, images can’t contain any kind of identifying information like a person’s face or medical details. Images have to be strictly medical in nature, and only images that fit this criteria will be approved by Figure 1.
In addition, patients have to sign a consent form in order to allow a doctor to take a photo and share it on Figure 1. This consent form can be signed on screen or on paper. All consent forms are specifically tailored to the country of residence where the doctor and patient are located. Doctors keep these consent forms, so that nobody else can access them. Figure 1 does not retain a copy of consent forms.
Paging Doctor Anonymous
Anyone can comment on images uploaded to Figure 1, but doctors can also page other doctors that may know the answer to a patient problem. Any images that do not fit the Figure 1 criteria will be deleted (images are sifted through manually). Not only is Figure 1 great for any doctor that needs some colleague input on a case, but it’s also a valuable learning tool for medical students.
Medical students that are trying to learn more about specific diseases can look at images, read what other doctors are writing, and learn more about their trade through this app. So far, the app has been both helpful for doctors and highly educational for students. If you are a part of the medical community, you will need to become verified by Figure 1 prior to posting photos to the app, but the procedure is simple enough.