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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May 13, 2021

Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech

3 min
We take a look at homecare software startup Birdie, who are aiming to transform elderly care in the UK

British startup Birdie has announced it has raised £8.2 million to invest in innovation and scale up the business. 

The company's announcement is timely as it follows the criticism of the UK government over their lack of a plan for social care, despite acknowledging the sector is in crisis - around a quarter of the UK's home care providers are on the brink of bankruptcy due to a lack of funds and staffing. 

Birdie was born with a mission to  "radically improve the lives of millions of older adults", by using app-based solutions, IoT and machine learning to put preventative care at the forefront.  The company was founded by Max Parmentier,  after experiencing his own frustrations with the care system - his grandfather struggled with the impact of life in a care home, but lacked any other option. 

In 2017 Parmentier partnered with venture builder Kamet Ventures to  set up Birdie, in a bid to fix this problem. Since then, Birdie has partnered with almost 500 providers across the UK, and supports more than 20,000 older people every week. In the past 12 months alone the number of people Birdie supports has got six times greater. 

Birdie’s solution is an app to help care providers deliver more coordinated, personalised and preventative care, by giving them access to digital assessments, medication scheduling and planning tools. By using digital tools to take care of admin, staff have more time to spend with their care recipients. 

The new investment will be used to fund Birdie’s next phase of growth in the UK, as the company scales to meet the rapidly growing demand of the aging population. The company will also invest in product innovation, creating new features to address customer requests.

In addition, Birdie is piloting new care models, including partnering with the NHS to identify COVID-19 symptoms, building predictive pharmacy models with AI, and helping health authorities to detect early warning signs of patients’ health risks.

Internally, Birdie is committed to having a progressive company ethos. All salaries are transparent, and staff work asynchronously to maximise flexibility and equity. Staff members also volunteer in their local community during office hours, and the company offsets all its emissions.

These efforts have led to numerous awards, including having the best SME culture in the UK, an Honorable Mention in the Health category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards, and innovation in care at the LangBuisson awards. 

“We believe the future of care for older people should be helping them to live at home for as long as possible through the delivery of personalised and preventative care" Parmentier said. 

"Birdie is already the partner of choice for caregivers up and down the UK, and this new funding will help us rapidly increase the number we partner with and what we can offer them - meaning more people benefiting from more affordable, quality care. We’re proud of our mission and the values we embody to pursue it.” 

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