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20 November 2014

Photo-sharing app for medics available in SA

Dr Joshua Landy, co-founder of 'Figure 1', answers some questions on the app.

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Figure 1 announced this week that its popular, free photo-sharing platform for healthcare professionals is now available in SA. Co-founder, Dr. Joshua Landy, answered some questions on the app.

The app, which is used by more than 150 000 users around the world, enables medical professionals and students across the globe to connect, discuss, and share de-identified content.

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Below is a Q&A with co-founder Dr. Joshua Landy, a Canadian Critical Care Medicine Specialist who serves as Figure 1's Chief Medical Officer and continues to practice medicine.

In 2012, Dr. Landy was invited to become a visiting scholar at Stanford University, where he researched online and multimedia-oriented approaches to health education. In 2013 he co-founded Figure 1, which recently received a four million dollar financing round led by Union Square Ventures.

Image: The three co-founders of the Figure 1 app.

Figure 1 Co Founders

What is Figure 1?

Figure 1 is a mobile-first network of international healthcare professionals who use the app to share and discuss medical images and other content.

It’s medical images have been viewed 200 million times since its launch in May 2013, and are viewed at a rate close to 1.5 million times each day.

How does Figure 1 work?

Figure 1 allows healthcare professionals to discuss de-identified medical cases.

Users can easily remove identifying details from images and upload them to the database. They can also join in clinical conversation with thousands of other healthcare professionals at the tap of a button.

How does Figure 1 protect patient privacy?


Patient privacy is our top priority. We supply a number of simple in-app tools to allow users to remove identifying patient information from the images they upload.

For example, an automatic facial blocking tool recognizes and blocks patients’ faces, while a draw feature enables users to block other identifying marks, such as tattoos or names.

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Once this is complete, a member of our moderation team reviews every image before it is posted on Figure 1 as an additional safeguard.

We’ve also included a jurisdiction-specific patient consent form in the app. It can be signed by a patient directly on a phone screen and emailed to the user for their records.

Who can use the app?


Anyone may download the app but only those who are registered as healthcare professionals can comment and post images. We also have an optional verification process for healthcare professionals who provide our team with information to verify their credentials.

These users can be identified by a checkmark symbol on Figure 1.

Image: Figure 1 is available on Android, iOS, and the web.

Figure 1 SA (1)

How does Figure 1 comply with South African privacy law?

Prior to our launch, we worked closely with South African lawyers to ensure that Figure 1 was in line with local privacy law. On Figure 1, we do not allow any private health information, so identifying details like names, faces, and tattoos are removed from images.

We also provide a South African-specific consent form in the app for patients to give consent.

How can Figure 1 help healthcare professionals?


Figure 1
can be used to broaden healthcare professionals’ medical knowledge by viewing thousands of rare and textbook cases.

It’s a useful tool to find medical images categorized by anatomy and specialty and to have real-time educational discussions with other healthcare professionals.

What are the rules about using Figure 1 at specific institutions?


Every institution has its own policies, and we encourage healthcare professionals to check and follow them.

Even if a specific institution doesn’t allow healthcare professionals to take photos or upload images, Figure 1 can still be a useful tool for viewing and discussing images.

What’s the uptake in South Africa prior to your launch?


We have a small but passionate group of South African healthcare professionals who have been helping with our launch.

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We run two programs in the country; Ambassadors (medical school students) and Fellows (practicing healthcare professionals) help us spread the word about Figure 1, and help shape the direction we take.

For More information about the app, visit the Figure 1 site.

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