A recent Marketplace Tech Report Podcast entitled, “‘Instagram for doctors’ is grisly and useful” showed one example of a strictly-business, valuable use for a photo-sharing app.
An emergency medicine resident, John Corker, uploaded a photo of a badly infected foot to a medical image sharing app called Figure 1 – and it was starred by a number of people, “which means they appreciated the image” he says. The x-rays, lesions, tumors and gunshot wounds are categorized by anatomy and specialty. And in the emergency room, access like this can be invaluable.
“If I’m able to log on to Instagram or Figure 1 and see a picture of something that I learned about three years ago in medical school that I may see in the future, that’s really helpful for my learning going forward,” Corker said.
But anonymity is key: The article continues, “Unlike Instagram, Figure 1 requires users to remove all personal details – faces or birthmarks, for example – from the photos they post.”
To quote Figure 1 co-founder Joshua Landy: “The best way to keep a secret is not to have it. We give them all the tools they need to remove any potentially private details from the photo. There’s an automatic tool to block out faces, tools that let you block out name, date, tattoos, or other identifying marks that might be in the photo.”
And ultimately, Landy and a small team actually review each image before allowing them to be posted.
We have seen the medical community continue to gradually adopt social media tools. Doctors-only, closed networks like Doximity are considered helpful by some, not so much by others.
Doximity itself had 400,000 verified physician members as of last January 1. And when they hit 250,000 members, they boasted that at that point their membership surpassed that of the American Medical Association.
In any case, there can be a delicate balance between communicating critical information and potentially violating HIPAA regulations. In fact, there have been several reports of surgeons texting from the operating room – and not just the potential privacy breaches, but the potential distractions it imposes.
We will continue to follow these trends, starting with the insights we glean from the comprehensive Social Media Audits we perform for our healthcare industry clients.