Figure 1 Medical Images is a free app that allows sharing of medical images to aid learning.
It was launched in 2013 and updated this summer, and the number of users has steadily grown.
The app has a user-friendly interface and a wide range of images, from radiographic to dermatological. This resource can be used by doctors and medical students.
An institutional email address is required to register. Images do not have to be shared to use the app. It has the facility for comments about clinical cases to be made. This is a helpful aid for teaching and learning.
Available from iTunes or Google Play to download free for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or Android
GP rating 4 out of 5.
Content is reviewed for suitability but the photographic material is not checked for diagnostic accuracy, so the app requires the user to be able to identify the condition they are searching for. A medical officer reviews uploaded images to search for potential privacy breaches, so appropriate action can be taken.
The search facility is dependent on how other users have classified their images. However, I envisage this app being useful to demonstrate a pictorial learning point when teaching medical students or trainees.
Images may also be emailed to colleagues to aid discussion; for example, a clinical photograph may be taken during a consultation. Images can be shared with a few colleagues or with the Figure 1 community.
If images are uploaded, they can be anonymised using a selection of editing tools. Moreover, there is an inbuilt face detection programme that can obscure relevant images. Tools can be used to label pictures.
A helpful feature in this app is the digital consent form, which patients can sign on screen. However, I think this process should be more considered and therefore more formal, with a written consent form.
The update resulted in the categorisation of images being improved to help functionality, and a scrollable view of an entire CT scan or MRI.
The app is compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Android from Google Play. It is optimised for iPhone 5.
- Dr Kochhar is a GP in Bexhill, East Sussex