Science & Technology Medical referral app a win for rural healthcare workers

Medical referral app a win for rural healthcare workers

Medical referral app Vula Mobile is proving to be a win for healthcare workers across the country.

The app connects primary healthcare workers in South Africa with specialists, enabling them to tap into expert advice and ensuring quicker treatment and the right care for patients. It currently has a network of over 11 000 healthcare workers that can tap into specialists in 15 fields such as orthopaedics, general surgery, dermatology, emergency medicine and ophthalmology.

Now healthcare workers are able to use Vula to seek specialist advice and assistance with potential Covid-19 cases and will be used by health professionals to connect to specialist advice at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Getting medical supplies to where they’re needed most

Vula is also being used to help Gift of the Givers in their campaign to raise funds for essential medical equipment and supplies as the number of Covid-19 cases increase. The Backabuddy fund-raising platform is being used.

“The aim of the campaign is to support high-risk medical professionals on the frontline dealing with infected patients… through protective equipment, ventilators and other essential supplies in the quest to preserve life,” says Gift of the Givers founder and director, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman.

[Although] “right now there is no emergency … preparing in advance to support overburdened government health facilities is a reasonable approach in the interests of all South Africans,”

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman

Vula will help direct equipment and supplies to where they are needed most.

Fast, easy access

Vula was first conceived by Dr William Mapham when he was working in Swaziland’s Vula Emehlo Eye Clinic some years back. He saw how long patients in rural areas had to wait to see a specialist and how far they often had to travel. Vula bridged that gap by giving healthcare workers fast and easy access to specialist advice and expertise via smartphones.

The app uses very little data making it accessible to all primary healthcare workers. “Our top users make about 120 referrals per month and the cost of that in data is (about) R4,” says Mapham.

Vula has received numerous awards since its launch, including the MTN Best Health Solution of the year award in 2019.

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