TechTool Thursday 032

TechTool review ofFigure1 by Movable Science on iOS

Figure1 is really what we have all been talking about in the FOAM world for some time.  It’s a way of storing patient photos on your phone, taking consent and sharing them with others for educational purposes.

It’s only out in the US at the moment, but I’ve had a sneak preview to see if it’s up to expectations

Website: - iTunes - Website


  • The design is ok, but could use some work to improve it.  The overall style and colour scheme looks great, but the photo feed doesn’t.  All you see is giant photos in a long list – it would be better to have a few words about the image and a thumbnail of the photo rather than being swamped by a massive image.
  • Having said that, the app is very straightforward to use, and the technology for uploading and editing your photos works superbly

User Interface




Clinical Content

  • View a feed of recently uploaded images (and any clinical notes)
  • Upload a photo
  • Edit your photo to remove identifying features
  • Make your photo public or just share with specific people
  • Comment on other people’s photos
  • Log the patient consent (patient signs on the phone and it can be emailed to both of you)
  • View a list of your favourite photos


  • Figure1 claims to get around issues of secure storing of information because it forces you to anonymise and de-identify the photos prior to publication.  The developers conclude from this that they are not bound to HIPAA standards.
  • I can’t comment on the legality of this, but it does seem to make sense.  Avoiding the legal bureaucracy of storage issues allows the app to be built more cheaply and offered for free


  • Free

Room for Improvement

  • It is impossible to browse this fantastic database – you should be able to view by category/topic but you can’t.  It does have a search function though which seems to work quite well.
  • Adding photos can lead you being stuck with no clear way to cancel/go back until the photo is added


  • This app has amazing potential and I’m so glad that someone has finally done it.
  • There is still huge room for improvement – particularly with how the photo database is managed, indexed and presented to the users.  But even a few weeks after launch, it is clear that there is a huge database of great educational photos building up.
  • This is a wonderful example of what FOAM can achieve.  And I’m told it will be available in Australia within the next few months
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  1. says

    Thanks Tessa

    Agreed it is good to see the app being produced rather than discussed -- but I agree with @doctor_v when it comes to some of the issues regarding on the fly publishing and patient consent. He has written a great article here [Figure 1 – A Safe App for Medical Images?] and summarises his concerns as:

    • Partner with someone like Doximity to verify physicians.
    • Eliminate anonymity.
    • Tighten the consent requirement in a way that better protects patients.
    • Move away from on the fly posting to something that requires more contextual info and forces users to think about why they might be sharing a medical image.