Mar 25, 2022 - Economy

Doctors helping doctors in Ukraine

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Figure1, a sort of Instagram for doctors, believes that its medical knowledge-sharing platform is “purpose-built” for the crisis unfolding in Ukraine, CEO Josh Wildstein tells Axios.

Why it matters: In war-torn nations, health care professionals can’t always get feedback or second opinions, nor do they typically have access to specialists. Figure1’s mobile app lets them quickly obtain insights and guidance from their peers in real time.

How it works: The app lets users upload images, information and videos on a current case and receive real-time help from other users.

  • Once a case is uploaded, Figure1 ensures that it’s both medically appropriate and that any privacy issues are removed.

Driving the news: Figure1 mined its archives to create a separate feed of content dedicated to cases that could be relevant or useful to people on the ground in Ukraine, such as gunshot wounds or broken limbs.

  • There are around 5,000 users in Ukraine on the platform today.

Backstory: Figure1 emerged during COVID but had proved itself in prior emergencies.

  • In 2016, a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders detailed to Fast Company how Figure1 helped treat Syrian refugees in Northern Lebanon.
  • Wildstein shared the experience of a physician in Nigeria who used Figure1 to treat individuals during the Boko Haram insurgency.
  • “We’re trying to amplify the message to say if you are there [Ukraine] or somewhere near there, we have HCPs [health care professionals] all over the world standing by.”

Flashback: The company was launched in 2013 by Canadian co-founders Joshua Landy, a medical doctor, Gregory Levey and Richard Penner around the vision of democratizing medical knowledge.

  • The idea? “Doctors are better at teaching doctors than other people might be,” Wildstein says.
  • With fewer than 30 employees, Figure 1 has surpassed 3 million registered users in more than 190 countries, and it estimates that over 2 million comments have been generated on its 100,000 cases to date.

The bottom line: No matter who you are or where you are in the world every person that’s treating a patient should have access to the same information, Wildstein says.

  • “In most places in the world, the phone is the lifeline,” Wildstein says. “Because [Figure1] is a simple-to-use native app, it’s like having a global hospital in your pocket when resources are scarce or knowledge is scarce.”

Sarah Pringle co-authors the Axios Pro Health Tech deals newsletter. Start your free trial at

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