There's a nearly 2-year-old photo-sharing app intended for health care professionals, but as it would turn out, many other non-medical people are obsessed with it too.
Figure 1 — described as "Instagram for doctors" — allows users to upload pictures of their often unusual medical conundrums or just interesting cases and fellow professionals can weigh in on what they think.
Those in the health care field aren't the only ones keeping tabs on what's popping up in the free iPhone and Android app though, even if they are the only ones who can comment. Some like the Verge's Ben Popper are "addicted" to it.
"The idea was just to familiarize myself with the app so I could talk with doctors, but I ended up getting sucked into the stream of grisly photographs," Popper wrote. "There was a real curiosity the app awakened about how medicine works and a sense of awe at the resilience of the human body. Compared to the baby pictures and pet portraits that make up my Instagram and Facebook feed, it was a visceral change of pace."
"It's [...] strangely interesting to an outsider," Fast Company's Neal Ungerleider also wrote.
Here's just a sampling of the type of content posted to the app that Figure 1 has shared on Twitter.
How would you approach the keloids seen in our #meded image of the week? https://t.co/lH0xPzTSC7pic.twitter.com/9b23fYMm54— Figure 1 (@Figure1) April 1, 2015
Can you name the pediatric growth in our #meded image of the week? Learn more on Figure 1: https://t.co/QukA7yopSGpic.twitter.com/Bblk6vbjjs— Figure 1 (@Figure1) March 25, 2015
What condition caused the pain, paresthesia, & discoloration in our #meded image of the week? https://t.co/btjzrVXMzXpic.twitter.com/FeFLPGMdXB— Figure 1 (@Figure1) March 11, 2015
Can you name the skin condition in our #meded image of the week? Find out on Figure 1: https://t.co/bM4U5Ana0Ppic.twitter.com/9FRjEQNfhK— Figure 1 (@Figure1) February 25, 2015
See how the case of #frostbite in our #meded image of the week progressed over 96 hrs: https://t.co/U20jBr2Njfpic.twitter.com/RmHATE8fIW— Figure 1 (@Figure1) February 18, 2015
Do you know why the lesions in our #meded image of the week are bright blue? Find out: https://t.co/dvpbI1WEsvpic.twitter.com/x9ocn8oswQ— Figure 1 (@Figure1) February 4, 2015
Only licensed health professionals can be verified by Figure 1 to upload images and comment, but others can view the content. From a patient privacy aspect, Figure 1 explains in its FAQ that patient consent might be required from certain facilities. For users who "simply feel more comfortable" getting consent from a patient before taking a picture, Figure 1 offers an in-app "tap, type and sign" consent form.
To protect patient privacy, no identifying information can accompany any images or comments on Figure 1.
Watch the app's co-founder Dr. Joshua Landy talk about Figure 1:
In the video, Landy said he created the app for health care professionals who wished they could share something "incredibly interesting" that they had seen with their peers in a way that also protected patient privacy.
"Personally, what I found most interesting on Figure 1 is to see what is fascinating to other health care professionals," Landy said. "When I see the types of cases that people are posting and the types of discussions that arise from those cases, it becomes this community of learning."
"The biggest value of Figure 1 is hearing from people across the whole spectrum of medicine," James Sancrant, a radiologist in North Carolina, told the Verge. "As a specialist, your focus can really narrow down, and the conversations on here help to round that back out."
Though many images in the app might be considered shocking to the non-medical user, not everything has a gross element. Popper pointed out that there are "uplifting, inspirational messages" as well, like a picture of a small heart in a surgeon's hand before it was transplanted into a 1-year-old baby.
If you're interested, download the app through the Apple store or Google Play, or check out some of the images posted on Figure 1's website.
(H/T: Daily Mail)
Front page image via Shutterstock.