NB Team

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No doctor can know everything, no matter how much House may want you to think otherwise. The Canadian start-up Figure 1 has cornered this hole in the market rather brilliantly. It launched its answer to Instagram for doctors in 2013 – Doctorgram is an app designed to crowdsource diagnoses by medics sharing images of what confounds them, for the chance of professional feedback from across the globe.

Injuries, rashes, growths – you name it and they’ve shared it, of course with the patient’s express permission (and signature). You can even ‘star’ an image, which co-founder Dr. Joshua Landy assures “is not a ‘like’, more a bookmark for something to go back to.”

Figure 1 offers a more secure, private, organised and specialist way of communicating than the 10,000 texts, WhatsApp messages and emails regarding cases that are sent between colleagues in the US each day. Anyone can join the service (there are always those who seek splatter and gore) but only medical professionals are ‘verified’ (like Twitter), through checks with their hospital – at a rate of almost 1,000 doctors a week across 40 countries. Usernames are allowed, so it’s entirely plausible that workmates may well be offering advice on their colleagues’ cases.

As Dr. Landy notes the platform is all about teaching and sharing, as well as providing “a reliable database of doctors” for countries like India where that type of list is “non-existent, so we don’t want to keep them out.”

Uploading photos is, naturally, rather more of a laborious process than usual for a sharing service – strict rules are to be observed in order to ensure that no faces, identifying features or text/numbers are accidentally shown in the image – there is even an in-built tool for deleting pixels to be doubly sure.

Once uploaded pictures are queued for vetting, stripped of any identifying metadata and only published if they adhere to the terms of service and are deemed to be of educational value. As well as receiving comments from the wider (medical) community, verified users can also be ‘paged’, which notifies them that their expert opinion is being sought – neat.  It’s probably for the best that Dr. Gregory House never did get his hands on this tool – the medical community would never have had a break from his gloating genius.

We spared you pictures from the app – you’re welcome.