The Figure 1 app, which allows doctors to share photos of patients' conditions, is set to roll out across Western Europe running up to the end of the year.
The app is already available in the US and UK (as well as Ireland, Australia and New Zealand), and is used to upload case photos of patients with various conditions and illnesses. These are then shared and can be commented on for diagnosis purposes, and to discuss possible treatment, not to mention the education of health professionals and so forth.
The BBC reports that thus far, over 150,000 doctors have uploaded case photos to the image sharing service – although naturally enough, privacy is a big issue when it comes to these pictures.
The patient's face is automatically covered with a black anonymising square, but other distinguishing marks like tattoos may not be – and have to be manually blacked out by the user. The photos are, however, evaluated by moderators before being posted up to Figure 1, to ensure that any potentially identifying marks have been dealt with.
The app developer notes, in a piece on privacy in its FAQ: "Because our images do not have identifying details about patients and are not attached to any patient information, such as names or addresses, they do not fall under regulations such as HIPAA's Privacy Rule in the United States, privacy legislation in Canada (such as PHIPA in Ontario), or similar legislation in other jurisdictions around the world."