Instagram For Doctors Helps Build A Visual Medical Database

Instagram For Doctors Helps Build A Visual Medical Database

Figure1 is a photo-sharing app for physicians that increases access to high-quality health-related imagery.

John Pugh, BI
  • 4 august 2013

The power of visual sharing that makes platforms such as Instagram so popular has been harnessed by retailers such as CT Food to share knowledge about cooking with its @askctfood service, but could the same be done for the medical world? Imagine if at the touch of a button, you or your doctor could tap into a vast image database, to better diagnose any potential health risks or conditions. Creating a social networking platform  for easily sharing and annotating this kind of photo-based medical information could greatly increase our access to knowledge that both current and extremely useable.

Figure1 is a photo sharing app specifically aimed at healthcare professionals. The iOS app allows this community to upload and share photos, depicting surgical procedures, medical conditions, and other relevant information, while maintaining privacy through built-in blur tools. It also includes an in-app consent form for patients.

figure1 1

Developed by healthcare tech startup Movable Science, Figure1 is a platform similar to Instagram that enables physcians to create their own feed of images from the cases they deal with. In order to protect patients’ privacy, the app uses facial recognition to block out faces, while users can add their own filters to cover up other identifiable marks. Members can also add pointers and annotations to provide additional details, and choose who is able to view, before uploading the image.


Photos can be tagged with relevant terms to allow the community to easily find them through search and others can comment on the images, creating a discussion among the community. Images can also be starred, which indicates quality and also enables users to save useful images for later reference.

The video below explains more about the app, which is free to download from the App Store:

Although image sharing tools such as Instagram were developed with the  purpose of entertainment and social sharing, Figure1 has tweaked the underlying function of the platform  to provide a tool that could help doctors and students share their knowledge and learn from others in an engaging and meaningful way. Additionally, the socially crowdsourced content has the potential to greatly increase the size and quality of available medical imagery.


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