Figure 1 – The Quiet Medical Education and Collaboration Platform

Posted on December 22, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As a healthcare IT blogger, I try to keep up to date with the latest happenings in healthcare IT. Of course, it’s impossible to keep up with everything, but I’ve generally heard of tech companies that are getting traction in healthcare. Either someone tells me about it, I see it on social media, or the company reaches out to me directly to have me write about them. However, sometimes companies quietly do their work and don’t ever hit my radar while they’re gaining significant traction. That was the case with Figure 1 who I first saw on a venture capital blog I read regularly.

The venture capitalist described Figure 1 as instagram for doctors. I’d describe it as a medical education and collaboration platform. Both are pretty accurate depending on your goals. The former is better for raising money and the later is better for understanding what Figure 1 actually does.

No doubt what Figure 1 has built is impressive. They have over half a million healthcare professionals (I think they’re close to a million, but they seemed to be waiting to announce when they actually hit that amazing milestone) on their platform that are viewing images on their platform. Maybe more impressive is that over 50,000 healthcare professionals use Figure 1 on a daily basis and Figure 1’s “medical cases” have been viewed over 1 billion times. They have a very international audience with healthcare professionals from over 100 countries (They verify professionals in over 75 countries). That’s a really significant international medical community.

This is no surprise to me. The first EMR forum I was part of 10 years ago when I started this blog created a section of the forum where doctors posted various medical images. It was a really popular part of the site and doctors seemed to love it. So, it made total sense to me that a mobile optimized version of what was happening on that forum would be even more popular.

Just to put what Figure 1 is doing in perspective, here are some user stories that Figure 1 shared with me:

“I saw a patient who was immunocompromised and had ecthyma gangrenosum on Figure 1 recently, and then later I saw it in person on a child. I’ve never seen that kind of rash before in person, and I knew exactly what it was because I’d
seen it on Figure 1. I treated the patient for exactly what it was instead of something else.”

And now for an international take on what Figure 1 is doing:

Dr. Hugo Zuniga is a family physician working in the Peruvian rainforest in a rural farming community of about 2000 people. As the only physician in the area, Dr. Ziniga is forced to treat many injuries, illnesses, and infectious diseases. Specialists are only available to the community via larger hospitals outside the rainforest. These hospitals are far and require a planned ride to reach them. The cost of visiting these hospitals is typically more than members of the community can afford, so Dr. Ziniga often lends money to his patients for treatment.

Dr. Ziniga says that Figure 1 helps him treat his patients. As an example, he speaks of one particular case where he was able to aid a five-year-old patient with a recurring infection. The patient was sent to a large hospital outside the rainforest for surgery, but the doctors there sent him back untreated, saying he didn’t need surgery.

When the patient returned to the community, Dr. Ziniga felt the other doctors had made the wrong decision. Suspecting that the patient’s adenoids were causing the recurring infection, he posted a photo to Figure 1 asking others if they agreed. After receiving support from the international Figure 1 community, Dr. Ziniga sent the patient back to the hospital, where he was given the surgery he needed.

Dr. Ziniga has no ambulance and few medical supplies. But now, with Figure 1, he says he doesn’t feel as isolated anymore.

I’m really impressed by Figure 1’s approach. It’s largely being done outside of the medical establishment, but it’s generally complimentary to the medical establishment. It’s not easy getting 100 doctors on any platform. Half a million healthcare professionals is really impressive. I’d love to know what you think of what Figure 1 is doing.