News Feature | July 29, 2015

Instagram For Doctors App Facilitates Collaboration

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Changing Hospital Technology

Figure 1 Mobile App gives physicians instant access to unusual clinical cases around the world.

A patient has a new rash a physician has never seen? Never fear. There’s an app for that!

A new mobile app, called Figure 1, now has users in more than 100 countries and allows physicians to upload photos, x-rays, or other images of conditions to a database that allows colleagues to collaborate on rare or difficult cases. The mobile app provides instant access to unusual clinical cases around the globe, and it is helping to change the way doctors interact with their patients and with each other.

CBS News reports Dr. Joshua Landy, Figure 1’s co-founder and an internal medicine and critical care specialist, always wanted a to find a way to communicate with colleagues about his patients when he couldn’t “do it justice with words.” Available on iTunes and Google Play, the Figure 1 app allows him to do just that. To upload photos, you must be a verified healthcare professional.

Physicians have long collaborated, via phone call, face-to-face meetings, or other connections, but this app takes the process further. “Medicine has always used asynchronous communications such as pagers or phones.” Landy told The Guardian. “Now we want to help people share images, enabling more eyes on more cases, but with privacy and learning in mind.”

MacGill says Figure 1 provides a forum for physicians to become familiar with cases they’d probably never see face-to-face. “It kind of opens up your world and opens up your eyes to just the other aspects of medicine. From the first day I immediately became hooked,” he said. “I think that medicine is so specialized now that at the end of our training we kind of are confined to our little box, and sometimes we only see what we see through our little blinders.”

The app also has potential as a teaching tool, as Dr. Vikas Shah, consultant radiologist at University Hospitals Leicester pointed out. “My main use for Figure 1 is to teach. I upload radiology cases such as x-rays or CT scans with a question or two, and use the commenting feature to teach people about the specific x-ray signs. The reach of the platform means I can teach across time zones, borders, medical specialties and grades.”

MacGill also stressed that his company has worked diligently to ensure that the app remains HIPAA complaint.

“Having people weigh in and having people give you a bit of guidance, or I suppose reaffirm what you suspect, is valuable,” said Landy. “It’s like having a colleague, or having many, in your pocket to bounce ideas off any day or night.”