There are not—nor will there ever be—any filters in Figure 1, a new iOS photo-sharing app that approximates the fruit of an unholy union between Instagram and the Discovery Health Channel. Instead, clarity is key, since the app supplies users with a steady photo stream of very real, very not-for-the-faint-of-heart medical oddities and diseases.
The minds behind Figure 1 created the app in hopes that the medical community at large would use it to crowdsource and share information about rare and difficult-to-diagnose cases. And in just about two weeks of being live, the app has already become a veritable cornucopia of amputated fingers, ventral hernias, frostbite, gangrene, disemboweled entrails, and everything in between. So if you're someone with a general fascination in the surgical world and/or a raging hypochondriac, you've just found your new favorite app.
Upon opening Figure 1, you're immediately shown the most recently added photos, but you can also search for a particular ailment, whether it be out of curiosity or to confirm/heighten your already irrational fears of staph infection—like I did. You can also "favorite" the images that you find most interesting, whether they simply speak to you or you're a doctor using it for more "practical" purposes.
Of course, one of the main concerns in app like this is patient privacy and confidentiality, which Figure 1 does try its best to ensure. When you go to upload a photo, you're brought to a consent form, which the patient or representative party is required to sign before being emailed the completed form. Additionally, face detection software finds any potential identifying features and blacks them out automatically, so anonymity is practically guaranteed (assuming it does its job).
For the average patient, this is still in no way a replacement for an actual doctor's visit. Nor is it necessarily brimming with factual, research-backed information. But as Dr. Josh Landy, a critical-care specialist and co-founder of Figure 1 told the National Post, this kind of sharing can be crucial for doctors:
An image with a story goes a long way. There is no question in my mind, educating doctors saves lives…. Having someone who has easier, more efficient access to information, who learns something more about a patient they are currently seeing, is going to improve the care of that patient.
So if you're strong of stomach and carry a particular fascination for innards, you're in for a treat. Plus, you've got nothing to lose; it's free! So go download Figure 1 and start browsing—it's for the Greater Good. [National Post via Digg]