Inside the insane and beautiful 'Instagram for doctors,' where surgeons post photos of freak cases and help each other save lives

Instagram is undeniably fun, but sometimes it can feel like you are chucking minutes and hours of your life into the void. There is an element of mindless pleasure in it. But there’s another app where photosharing actually helps save lives. That app is Figure 1, sometimes called the “Instagram for doctors.”

Dr. Josh Landy thought up the idea for Figure 1 when he noticed that doctors were texting each other photos in order to communicate about cases. They would ask each other questions, or prep colleagues for a case. But why not expand that circle, and use doctors around the world to help out?

That’s what sparked Landy to create Figure 1, a network where doctors share photos, wisdom, and “likes” with their counterparts around the world. He has raised more than $US8 million for the app from investors like Union Square Ventures.

The results of Figure 1 are fascinating. Looking at the app is a glimpse into the strange world of doctors, complete with bizarre cases, gallows humour, and a palpable sense of how many lives are being saved.

To comply with HIPAA and protect patients, the app removes all identifying features, like tattoos and faces, from each photo. Patients also must sign a consent form in the app before the doctor can share a photo.

Here’s what happens in Figure 1:

The doctor first uploads a picture along with a comment...

Figure 1

...which can appear in different sections for different parts of the body...

Figure 1

...and always requires the consent of the patient before it's posted.

Figure 1

The doctors show off their nifty handiwork...

Figure 1

...and get complimented on it.

Figure 1

They marvel over the beauty in harmful things.

Figure 1

They ask how to deal with unexpected reactions.

Figure 1

They show organs about to be implanted in someone's body...

Figure 1

...and thank the families of transplant donors.

Figure 1

They show weird-looking things that come out of people's bodies too.

Figure 1

Of course, there's an image of the week.

Figure 1

And predictably, medical students ask what the heck is going on...

Figure 1

...but the established doctors are usually pretty nice about it.

Figure 1

Doctors upload scans.

Figure 1

They post pretty normal looking cases...

Figure 1

...and incredibly bizarre ones.

Figure 1

Sometimes they are stumped...

Figure 1

...and a random doctor serves up a slam-dunk diagnosis.

Figure 1

They show off their humanitarian efforts...

Figure 1

...and explain why they are doing them.

Figure 1

And honestly, some of the images look like they are from Halloween...

Figure 1

...complete with the requisite blood.

Figure 1

You can download Figure 1 for iOS or Android.

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