Vula Mobile e-health app is gaining traction in South Africa as more health workers are becoming registered users.
The company was founded in 2014 as an app to give health workers – particularly those in remote rural areas – a tool that helps to get patients quick and efficient specialist care.
The company disclosed on its blog on Friday that the number of health workers registered on its app more than doubled from 1,775 at the beginning of January 2017, to more than 3,600 a year later.
“We were blown away by how widely distributed our users are across South Africa,” the company explains.
Vula Mobile measure its impact in terms of patients helped per quarter.
“We saw a 2.5x increase last year, from 2,397 patients helped in the fourth quarter of 2016, to 5,888 patients helped in the same quarter of 2017. We are now on course to help more than 7,500 patients in the first quarter of 2018,” the company operating the e-health app said.
Vula is now used for orthopaedic referrals at hospitals in Kimberley, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, East London, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
Research using Vula data is also under way for burns and dermatology.
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. He experienced first-hand the difficulties faced by rural health workers when they need specialist advice.
A flash grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation, and some prototype design work from Flow Interactive (now part of Deloitte Digital) helped Dr Mapham to win the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Award in 2013. The prize money enabled him to launch the app for Android and iOS in July 2014.
The 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.