The Vula Eye Health mobile app aims to change the way that health workers access information, carry out eye tests, and connect with specialists and make referrals for people with eye diseases.
Vula is the invention by South African doctor William Mapham, who saw the potential and the need for technology to improve medical appointment systems while working in rural Eastern Cape. After realizing that they were taking long 8 hour drives to and another 8 hours from routine check-ups of patients in the rural area, Dr. Mapham saw the need to come up with a diagnostic solution.
“Inefficient referral networks are a drain on resources” says Dr. Mapham. “We’re hoping that by applying mobile technologies to this issue, Vula can play a part in improving the way referrals are made and creating more robust health systems”.
The app works using 3 main functions, the first is to do a vision test, testing the actual vision; another is taking the photograph and the third is doing a phytology test of when it has been there and other medical history.
“With that amount of information it helps us make an accurate decision about where the problem could probably be and how the patient can be best managed” Dr. Mapham explained.
The Vula app is now the solution to giving vision inspection in rural areas, instead of the doctor taking a 16 hour journey to check up on patients, a community health worker does the job of checking the eye vision of a patient using the app and takes a picture of the eye pupil which then gets to be sent to the doctor for diagnosis.
Furthermore the app has a chat option which is a direct contact to a specialist doctor near the patient’s area. Also has a chat section which allows the healthcare workers making the referral to send photographs and chat directly with an experienced medical specialist.
The Vula app is available for Android and iOS operating systems, and is already being used in five hospitals in South Africa, as well as one hospital in Swaziland.