Problem: Rural health workers face difficulties when they need specialist advice due to geographical restraints, increasing the risk of long-term effects of diseases and errors and delays.
Solution: Vula mobile is an e-referral application that makes it easy to refer patients to specialists by putting primary healthcare workers in rural areas directly in touch with on-call specialists. The app is made for rural areas and uses up to 25x less data than social messaging apps.
Goals and objectives: The aim of the app is to give health workers – particularly those in remote rural areas – a tool that helps to get patients quick and efficient specialist care.
Implementation: Vula is the brainchild of Dr William Mapham, who conceived the idea for the app while working at the Vula Emehlo Eye Clinic in rural Swaziland.
The apps for Android and iOS were launched in July 2014.
This free app was initially only for ophthalmology referrals, but it quickly became clear that the functionality provided by Vula was widely needed. Specialists from several different fields donated their time to work with the Vula team to design functionality for their own specialities. Vula added cardiology, orthopaedics and burns in April 2016. This redesign enabled the app to scale to include referral forms for any number of specialities.As of December 2019 there are 33 specialties on Vula and it is used by 54 types of health professional.
Achievements: The number of health workers registered on Vula more than doubled from 1,775 at the beginning of January 2017, to more than 9,500 in December 2019.
The number of patients helped increased from 2,397 in the fourth quarter of 2016, to 5,888 patients helped in the same quarter of 2017, and now to over 26,000 in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Vula was awarded MTN’s Best Health App of 2019.
39 High Level Road, J5 Alma Court, Greenpoint, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
William Mapham, Founder & CEO