'What's that?': Pros compare notes with 'Instagram for doctors' app
Amy Legate-Wolfe, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, July 5, 2015 10:03PM EDT
A Canadian mobile app is helping medical professionals share some of their toughest cases with other specialists and physicians around the world, with the goal of crowdsourcing expertise from the medical community.
The app is called Figure 1, named after the photo numbering convention used in medical journals.
And photos are what this app is all about. Figure 1 compiles millions of images in real time from doctors seeking a second, third, or 100th opinion on medical mysteries they encounter on the job.
The images range from enlarged tongues, to rashes, to petri dishes full of deadly bacteria. Anyone who downloads the app on an iOS or Android device can view the photos, but users must be "verified" as medical professionals before they're allowed to comment or upload photos of their own.
WARNING: The photos can be extremely graphic.
Figure 1 provides a forum for doctors to discuss diagnosis and possible treatment options.
The app is the brainchild of Joshua Landy, a critical care physician at The Scarborough Hospital.
“Having help or suggestions from colleagues can help them make a diagnosis sooner,” Landy told CTV News.
Figure 1 also aims to protect patient privacy. Patients are required to consent before a photo is posted, and the app includes several tools so posters can hide faces and keep the patient's identity anonymous. An image can also be removed at any time.
Landy says the app has an "automatic face-blocking feature, and very detailed and strict requirements on how to remove identifying details.”
Figure 1 spokesperson Annie Williams says the app has also been a helpful learning tool for students.
“I spoke to a medical student in Brazil (who) told me he had never heard of or seen frostbite until he saw Figure 1,” Williams said.
The app has built up a large community of experts since it launched in 2013.
“It’s grown beyond my imagination,” Williams said.
With files from CTV News' Omar Sachedina