May 17, 2020

Why Figure 1 Will Never Be the 'Instagram for Doctors'

medical technology
Health Tracking
3 min
Figure 1 has a very similar design to Instagram, making the app user-friendly but open to patient privacy violations.
When a Canadian intensive care doctor invented the worlds first medical app following Instagrams photo sharing userface last year, the health care world...

When a Canadian intensive care doctor invented the world’s first medical app following Instagram’s photo sharing userface last year, the health care world stood still. It was the first time doctors would be able to share and discuss assorted medical conditions via images, all from the access of a smartphone.

Dr. Joshua Landy, a practicing intensive care physician at Scarborough Hospital in Toronto, developed Figure 1 in an attempt to merge medical textbooks with the digital revolution.

“This was something that came to me, as a combination of my clinical work as well as my research work,” Landy told IBTimes UK in an interview earlier this month. “I see a lot of complex cases that are best shared with other health care professionals, but the pain of not having a proper system to share images or discuss cases is an obstacle.”

While the application, which is already available in five countries, does give health care professionals and medical students the opportunity to contribute to any case, there are a number of problems with the app.

Here’s why Figure 1 will never be the “Instagram for Doctors.”

The Name

 Product naming is a critical part of the branding process, which includes all of the marketing activities that affect the brand image.

Figure 1: what does that mean? What’s the story behind the name? In what way does “Figure” tie into the medical field and more importantly, image sharing?

The number also comes into play: 1. By including a number does it imply that Landy has thoughts of introducing other apps with the succeeding names of “Figure 2” and “Figure 3”?

The name is confusing, and confusion does not mix well when trying to spread the word about the next big app in the health care industry. Plus, it’s not memorable. If a doctor can’t remember he has downloaded an app that allows him or her to discuss medical conditions nor are his or her peers talking about the app, what good does it do?

Absence of Clinical Context

Medical images shared in the absence of context run the risk of serving as entertainment. While users are able to include a caption to go along with the image, the nature of the application doesn’t intend for a long-winded, detailed explanation. Therefore, not having enough context can run the risk that photos are being uploaded to shock or amuse, rather than teach, the sole intention of the app.

Lack of Patient Confidentiality

Probably the most important reason why Figure 1 won’t become as big as it could is because of privacy concerns. While there are a number of measures taken prior to uploading a photo to ensure patient anonymity – such as the blocking out of faces, covering of any identifying markers such as birthmarks or tattoos and the signing of a consent form from the patient – what happens if a patient wants to opt out later? Plus, HIPAA still plays a role in the realm of social media and de-identification is a tricky business.

At the end of the day, physicians are held accountable and liable for any clinical images they share. The terms of service make it clear of that. Are doctors willing to lose their medical license over jumping on board the next medical app that comes online? 

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Jun 18, 2021

Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool 

2 min
Skin Analytics uses AI to detect skin cancer and will be deployed across the NHS to ease patient backlogs

An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system. 

NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion. 

Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making. 

In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog. 

Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening. 

DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.

Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges. 

"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”

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