When I heard the Figure 1 app described as “Instagram for doctors” and saw some of the sample photos on the app, I was torn. Sure, I can see the utility behind the app and it could certainly help in some rare cases. I also see the potential as a learning tool for other doctors.
But there’s just something that doesn’t sit right with me about an app that “lets practitioners quickly upload unusual and informative images”. Of course this app is ripe for glorifying gore or de-humanizing patients (further). But I’ve realized my true objection to this app is this:
I’m a firm believer that the web is an equalizing tool for health; a place where patients can find their own answers and allow them to take an active role in their care; a tool that is breaking down the old medical attitude of “doctor knows best”. This app does the opposite. It uses technology to keep patient data in the hands of doctors and places it where the patient has no control over it whatsoever.
The power gradient is already against you when you’re a patient. Figure 1 is just one more thing keeping it that way.