"Instagram for doctors" app launches in Australia

A Canadian start-up company that has developed a free app for sharing medical images that some are calling “the Instagram for doctors” has officially launched it in Australia.

Figure 1 is a free app for the iPhone that allows healthcare professionals to view, share and comment on medical images. The developers – Canadian critical care doctor Joshua Landy, software developer Richard Penner and CEO Gregory Levey – have funded the app through venture capital, recently raising $C2 million in seed funding.

The app includes an algorithm that ensures the patient's face is blocked out, as well as a manual block allowing users to remove identifying marks such as tattoos. It also includes a photo editor to allow users to crop images and to add arrows to highlight points of interest.

Users can share images with specific people or the whole community of users, and each image includes a caption to explain what the image is or to ask questions. There is also an image library that is searchable by anatomy or specialty.

It has an optional verification tool that at the moment is restricted to licensed doctors but which the company hopes to expand to other healthcare professionals. Verified users receive higher rankings. In North America, users are verified through the networking tool Doximity or by an email to the doctor's institution.

As the images don't have identifying details and are not attached to any patient information, most privacy regulations can be avoided, the company says. However, as most medical facilities require written patient consent before a photo is taken, Figure 1 also includes an in-app 'tap, type and sign' consent form.

Figure 1 spokeswoman Annie Williams said the Australian version of the app, which was launched on Monday, contains an Australian-specific consent form.

Ms Williams said the app is already being used by a group of Australian medical students for educational purposes and a few qualified doctors who are early adopters.

The app was first launched in North America in the middle of last year, and it has received a good review on iMedicalApps. The company hopes to develop a large community of healthcare professionals to share images, knowledge and clinical insight.

“In just six months, we’ve had tens of thousands of North American, UK and Irish healthcare professionals join Figure 1, resulting in more than 30 million image views on the app,” Ms Williams said.

“We are hopeful that the Australian medical community will find Figure 1 as useful as our existing users do.”

The Australian version is available from the App Store and has been optimised for the iPhone 5. The company is also hoping to develop an Android version.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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