Health workers in rural and remote areas continue to seek advice from specialists on behalf of their patients. So it’s no surprise that Vula Mobile, a medical referral startup, is seeing its health app gaining traction as more people start to utilise its online services.

Vula Mobile is the brainchild of Dr William Mapham, who conceived the idea for the app while working at an Eye Clinic in rural Swaziland.

He experienced first-hand the difficulties faced by rural health workers when they need specialist advice.

In 2015, the app which was then only available to assist with eye health and had 500 registered users, won the MTN award for Most Innovative App. That year 851 patients benefitted from specialist guided healthcare.

Today the system has expanded to 23 specialities which include Cardiology, Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Emergency Medicine.

There are 8 500 registered users, and this is increasing at approximately 300 addition users every month.

There are now 45 types of health professional using it, from ambulance assistants, nurses, doctors to specialists across six Provinces. In September this year alone, 9 000 patients benefitted from health professionals using this app.

Research from Stellenbosch University shows that in 31% of cases, the patient is treated at the primary facility, by a primary health worker who is given advice by a specialist on Vula Mobile.

“I just wanted to express how great an innovation this app is. Essentially, Vula Mobile has meant that patients are getting better care now than before it existed. In the South African public health context that’s a huge thing,” says Dr C Dold, a junior doctor.

Vula Mobile is now supported by the South African National Department of Health and is being rolled out across all nine Provinces with interest being shown from other countries too.

This app is all about connecting healthcare workers to doctors for better care of patients.

Last month, Vula Mobile was named the winner of the Best Health App for 2019.

This award, sponsored by Sentech, is one of 12 app winners announced at the MTN App of the Year awards ceremony held late last month in Sandton, Johannesburg.



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