Figure 1, a free image-sharing app for healthcare professionals, was recently launched in India. The app aims to connect doctors and others across the globe to enable sharing of multiple opinions on a diagnosis, and educate people on a particular condition and various medical practices through its photo-sharing service.
Students across the globe can connect, discuss, and share de-identified content. In the Figure 1 profile, one may identify his/her name, workplace, and other information. Any medical images posted must have identifying details related to the patient removed. For example, faces and tattoos. Once an image is uploaded, a medical officer and team of moderators perform a review of each image to verify that all identifying information has been removed from it before it is shown on Figure 1.
The app is available on iPhone, Android, and the web. Privacy is a major concern in a service of this nature and Gregory Levey, Co-Founder and CEO, Figure 1, says enough checks are in place to ensure there is no intrusion of privacy.
“We provide an in-app consent form that was developed in compliance with Indian Law. It allows a patient to sign the screen with their finger, and for it to be emailed to the healthcare professional,” he says on the sharing of medical images.
“Indian law is rooted in the British common law and thus is similar to British and Canadian laws on this matter. They each say that as long as an image is de-identified, and it contains no private health information, it can be shared for the purposes of education and information,” he adds.
However, since some diseases are endemic, there are many cases on Figure 1 that are relevant to a particular country or area of the world. “There are many South African users uploading cases involving complications from HIV, and snake bites and spider bites from Australia. In the US, the resurgence of Measles has been a topic of discussion,” points out Levey.
At the same time, medical conditions like heart disease and cancer are universal. Exposure to different kinds of treatment and perspective can be valuable. Despite challenges like low-internet penetration and fewer smartphone users among rural medical practitioners in the country, Figure 1 is hopeful about having made India their launch pad for the Asian market.
Tertiary care institutions, district hospitals and Primary Health Centres form an integral part of Indian healthcare infrastructure. At the risk of not being restricted to large hospital chains catering to the urban elite, Figure 1 team recently visited India and toured a government hospital in Mumbai. “At that hospital, many healthcare professionals told us how they could make use of Figure 1 there. We are hopeful that some interesting partnerships between hospital chains and government hospitals will emerge in the coming months,” Levey affirmed.
To make sure that the images are being accurately described, Figure 1 has a verification process for licensed physicians. A checkmark icon next to the username indicates that the user is a verified healthcare professional. In India, Figure 1 uses the Medical Council of India database along with photo ID to verify a physician’s identity.