How this Instagram-for-doctors is helping the ebola fight

Doctors without Borders, the esteemed non-profit that sends medics into developing countries, has found an unlikely ally in the war against ebola. It’s using Figure 1, a social network that bills itself as the “Instagram for doctors,” to recruit physicians to the cause. Figure 1 is giving Doctors without Borders free advertising in order to raise awareness of the mounting ebola crisis and prod potential volunteers to help in whatever way they can.

A nurse helps an ebola patient in Doctors without Borders' Figure 1 ad

A nurse helps an ebola patient in Doctors without Borders’ Figure 1 ad

The app pinned this picture of a nurse in New Guinea to the top of its feed, putting it front and center of its users. “It got a crazy amount of attention, over 15,000 views in 24 hours, which for us is quite good,” Figure 1 co-founder Dr. Greg Levy said. “All kinds of favorites and comments.”

Figure 1 was started to make it easy for doctors to educate themselves about new illnesses, procedures, and technology. Doctors and med students peruse a feed of injury and ailment images uploaded by other doctors, with all patient identifying features blurred.

“We had studied workflow behaviors of young physicians, keeping track of cases by taking pictures with their phones and sharing with their colleagues,” Figure 1 co-founder Dr. Josh Landy said. “We took a workflow that already existed and gave them away to have it searchable and protect patient privacy.”

Social networking, when developed for a particular profession, can sometimes create substantial value for their users. And as the Figure 1 – Doctors without Borders partnership shows, it can also create an unparalleled opportunity to reach a wide swath of such professionals.

As Figure 1’s user base grows, so does its power to reach medical professionals. Figure 1 has 150,000 doctors on the app, so it still has a ways to go. There aren’t a ton of up-to-date numbers on how many doctors are in the U.S., but the 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics puts it at roughly 700,000.

The initial positive reaction to the Figure 1 ebola ad convinced Doctors without Borders to expand its partnership. The app is now helping it advertise new types of health techniques in Papa New Guinea. To combat tuberculosis, drones are bringing specimens from remote rural areas to the nearest hospitals for testing. Showing that activity to doctors in the U.S. keeps them abreast of the latest technology and — in theory — piques their interest in joining Doctors without Borders.

The drones that send TB specimen from rural areas in Papa New Guinea

The drones that send TB specimen from rural areas in Papa New Guinea

QuantiaMD raises $12M for online community for doctors

QuantiaMD, a Waltham, Mass.-based company that provides an online collaboration and communication platform for doctors, has raised $12 million from existing funder Fuse Capital. Launched in 2008, the company said it has more than 160,000 physicians on its network.

Who’s building mobile Websites? Pizzerias and plumbers

Pizzerias love the mobile Web. Why? There’s a feature embedded in many of their sites called click-to-call that allows a hungry mobile surfer to initiate a phone order directly from the Webpage. An astonishing 35 percent of site visits result in a click-to-call order.

The iPad’s other life: medical device extraordinaire

The iPad has been a success for Apple in business, apparently in spite of Apple’s lackadaisical approach to promoting its products directly to enterprise customers. But there’s one area where the company is clearly making a concerted effort to promote professional adoption of the iPad: medicine.

Electronic medical records get a boost from iPad, federal funding

The iPad may help electronic medical records (EMR, sometimes also referred to as electronic health records, or EHR) finally gain wide adoption, thanks in part to a new program that will see the federal government dispersing grants to doctors who use a free iPad app.

Slates for Doctors? Where Apple’s Tablet Makes Dollars and Sense

In some interesting tablet news that falls a little off the well-trod rumors path, Apple (s aapl) officials have apparently paid a visit to LA’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center a few times to talk up the potential of an Apple tablet in terms of the medical field. VentureBeat is reporting that these visits have been confirmed by Jason Wilk, an entrepreneur whose father plays golf with Cedars-Sinai executives.

It makes sense for Apple to test the waters in non-consumer markets where tablets have found some purchase in the past. The iPhone is making gains in enterprise, and is even used by many doctors because of the low cost and good design of a variety of medical database apps available on the device’s App Store. Read More about Slates for Doctors? Where Apple’s Tablet Makes Dollars and Sense

FDA Suggests Possible iPhone Health App Regulation…Or Do They?


Don Witters, Chairman for the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health, gave a presentation at a healthcare IT conference last week during which he suggested that the FDA ought to have some regulatory jurisdiction over healthcare apps developed for the iPhone. His reasoning is that the FDA is responsible for all healthcare monitoring devices, including those that work on mobile phones.

When the issue of FDA-regulated iPhone apps initially came up at the conference, Witters said the iPhone didn’t meet the criteria for a medical device, which he defines as:

“…an implementation, product, apparatus or other component or accessory, which is used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, prevention of disease or effects any structure of the body–that could actually include some information technologies and performance technologies–but usually it’s something that is performed on the patient, touches the patient or is performed between physician and patient.”

Loosely put, a mobile device is anything portable that’s used for diagnosing or treating a patient. Obviously, as a standalone device the iPhone doesn’t meet that definition. While it’s possible to add applications that can assist someone with medical diagnostics or healthcare maintenance, it’s really unlikely that an iPhone app — at least in the near future — would function as much more than a way to keep track of medical information or perhaps communicate with physicians.
Read More about FDA Suggests Possible iPhone Health App Regulation…Or Do They?