The Lancet Oncology says Figure 1 is “meeting junior oncologists where they are: on their phones”

The future of oncology education looks a lot like Figure 1, according to this issue of The Lancet Oncology.

Writing in the leading journal’s Perspectives section, Dr. Jeremy Samuel Faust describes his experiences sharing and discussing medical cases on the Figure 1 platform. (The full article is here; subscription required.) In short, he believes Figure 1’s peer-to-peer model of medical education “can enrich both our educational and personal lives.”

Here’s how he came to that conclusion:

High-quality cases

Dr. Faust was intrigued by the chest radiograph associated with this case. “Is it a nodule? Does this need follow-up? Is it malignant?” When he went in to investigate, he was impressed at how much information was available:

“The quality is outstanding, even as my thumb and index finger expand from a pinch to the outermost edges of my smartphone’s screen, the granular details of the image are revealed.”

Active discussions

As he did a deep dive into Figure 1’s medical oncology cases, Dr. Faust noted the depth and breadth of medical content:

“I view an image of an impressive amelanotic melanoma, a fungating mass emanating from a forearm. The word #melanoma is in blue. Tapping the hyperlink, I discover 20 other interesting presentations of melanoma, including an eyeball resected due to a rare choroidal melanoma. Users have added comments. Questions have been posed and answered.”

Professional connections

Dr. Faust was most impressed with what happened after he shared his first medical case on Figure 1. (It was an electrocardiogram of a patient with leukemia and shortness of breath, and you can see it here.) The first person to “crack the case” was one of his colleagues from Boston.

“Our interactions have always been limited to giving and receiving reports on patients. But after a few messages back and forth on Figure 1, I now feel as if I kind of know the bloke. I know we will make a friendly connection the next time we work together.”

Widespread adoption

Dr. Faust describes his trainees as “the most motivated and engaged learners I have ever encountered.” These residents “have their fingers on the pulse of modern medical education.” So when he asks them if they own any medical textbooks, he hears crickets.

“But when I ask if they use Figure 1, eyes light up with enthusiasm and a conversation ensues. Phones, it seems, are where the educational action is.”

Game-changing reach

As he thought about the potential of Figure 1, Dr. Faust considered a recent interesting case of his. Previously, he had been thinking of submitting it to the images section of a major journal — a laborious process with no guarantee of publication. Now, he sees a superior way to share such a case.

“If I wanted a line on my curriculum vitae, I could submit this case to the journal. But if I simply want to be the most effective teacher possible, I will just upload a photo to Figure 1 and tap out a concise description. The correct course seems obvious.”

You can read Dr. Faust’s Perspectives column in its entirety here.

Published September 2018

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