A Canadian startup has launched a support tool for doctors to support each other in diagnosing and treating illnesses and diseases. Figure 1 is an Instagram-like tool for doctors to share images and ask for support and advice, with a key aim of safeguarding patients’ privacy.
On one level, this is not exactly new, as thousands of images in emails, texts, WhatsApp messages and the like are shared between doctors each day. But Figure 1 aims to be the ‘go to’ app for doctors with its familiar yet secure interface.
“Medicine has always used asynchronous communications such as pagers or phones,” says Dr. Joshua Landy, co-founder of Figure 1. “Now we want to help people share images, enabling more eyes on more cases, but with privacy and learning in mind.”
Figure 1’s UI is very similar to Instagram’s, with photos being uploaded into a feed, comments being made and the option to ‘star’ a photo as a bookmark.
Differences between Figure 1 and its popular counterpart revolve around patient confidentiality. There are strict rules about the content of photos. The patient’s face, any text or numbers or identifiable marks are not allowed to be shown. In-app image editing tools can be used to obscure parts of the picture before upload. Images are then queued to be manually approved before going live.
“Uploaded images often look like a mess of black holes where things have been deleted, but that’s fine – this is not about aesthetics, it’s about sharing and learning,” said Landy.
Patients also sign a consent form for the image to be shared. These consent forms are tailored to different countries and are held by doctors, not by Figure 1.
In addition, while anyone can sign up and access the app, Figure 1 will only verify doctors, nurses or other medically-trained staff. Although staff do not need to use their own identity in the app, the firm will verify them through the organisation they work for.
“Once images are uploaded into the stream, comments and answers start appearing within minutes,” said Landy. “But you can also page people for specific queries.”
Verified medical staff can be paged and will receive a notification of a query or picture, plus any requests for their expertise. Figure 1 has the potential to be used in education and provide a greater support network for medical practitioners worldwide.Source: The Guardian
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