Technology making a difference

Vula appLack of access to appropriate health care in rural areas is a well-known problem.  However, in some cases technology can make a real difference. In 2014 we started supporting Dr William Mapham in activities related to the roll-out and testing of the Vula Eye Health App.  This app enables lay people to test for eye health conditions and connects them to an eye specialist who can offer advice or arrange a referral for treatment. In a nutshell the Vula App enables the user to:

  • Test a patient’s vision;
  • Conduct an eye examination, including photos of the eyes;
  • Take a history of the patient’s condition and past medical history;
  • Automatically package the information and refer it to the appropriate eye specialist in their area;
  • Chat on a dedicated ‘eyeMessage’ system with the specialist to receive advice or to make an appointment;
  • Rate the referral experience;
  • Learn more about eye conditions through an information section on the app.

In addition:

  • Vula is designed to work in rural areas by allowing the user to collect patient data and then only refer when they get cellphone reception. The size of the pictures sent can also be adjusted for areas with poor connectivity;
  • Vula has an ‘on-call’ system to ensure that there is always a specialist to give advice or receive referrals;
  • All data is recorded on a server for monitoring, evaluation and research purposes;
  • All data is deleted from phones once the case has been closed. This ensures patient confidentiality;
  • All health workers on the system are personally ratified to ensure there are no bogus people on the system.

Have a look at this video to see how this app makes a difference:

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