The Referral App provides a safe and secure connection of healthcare workers and patients to share important advice. The application has been used in teleconsultations in South Africa for burn injuries and handling emergencies.
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Target Users (Target Impact Group)
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
Distributors / Implementing Organizations
Google Play Store and Apple Store
Direct competitors include ClickMedix.
Intellectural Property Type
User Provision Model
Users can acquire Referral App from Google play store for android users and from Apple Store for the iOS users.
Distributions to Date Status
10K+ users indicated as downloads as of 2021
Vula connects healthcare workers and provides a secure, safe platform to receive advice on patient treatment plans and refer patients to specialist services and departments. The solution is customizable for all medical specializations and allows for easy transfer of structured patient information and images. This system works on android, iOS Platforms and can also be accessed via the web. In a video, healthcare providers describe the Vula mobile app. Referral App was designed by Vula Mobile and is being used by over 200,000 healthcare workers and serves over 480,000 patients.
Provided by the manufacturer
Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters
Vula mobile set out a target to connect patients to healthcare workers by providing a safe and secure platform.
Vetted Performance Status
Testing from the Karolinska Institute found a significant relationship between compatibility—usefulness, and usefulness—attitudes. Additionally, almost all health professionals in the selected sample size already used smartphones for work purposes hence were positive about using smartphones for burn consultations. Despite the ease of use of the application, participants suggested that training and ongoing support should be available. Barriers included access to wireless internet and access to hospital-provided smartphones. 59 participants rated high on concepts such as usefulness, attitude, and BI, suggesting that they were positive toward using the app.
Complementary Technical Systems
Academic Research and References
Du Toit, J., Mann, T. N., Du Preez, G., & Morkel, R. W., 2019, “Orthopaedic referrals using a smartphone app: Uptake, response times and outcome,” South African Medical Journal, 109(11), pp.859-864.
Klingberg, A., Wallis, L., Hasselberg, M., Yen, P., and Fritzell, S., 2018, “Teleconsultation Using Mobile Phones for Diagnosis and Acute Care of Burn Injuries Among Emergency Physicians: Mixed-Methods Study, ” JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 6(10), pp. E11076.
Verhagen, Lilly M., et al., 2020, “COVID-19 response in low-and middle-income countries: don’t overlook the role of mobile phone communication,” International Journal of Infectious Diseases 99, pp. 334-337.
Duys, R., et al., 2021, “WhatsApp and Internet Protocol messaging in healthcare: a transformative opportunity,” Southern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia 27.2, pp. 60-62.
Kleintjes, W. G., et al., 2018, “An algorithm for responsive fluid resuscitation at the Western Cape Provincial Tertiary Adult Burn Centre,” South African Journal of Plastic & Reconstructive Aesthetic Surgery & Burns 1.1, pp.16-18.
Klingberg, Anders, et al., 2020, “m-Health for Burn Injury Consultations in a Low-Resource Setting: An Acceptability Study Among Health Care Providers,” Telemedicine and e-Health 26.4, pp. 395-405.
Google Play, “Vula Mobile”
App Store, “Vula Mobile”
Vula Mobile, “Interviews with health professionals using Vula Mobile“, Youtube, 2020
Compliance with regulations
The app complies with the data protection policy and assures all patients of safety for their data and communications are private and secure.
Through a field-based product testing study, the manufacturer and collaborators evaluated the app for acceptability, reliability, and usability tests.
Faced with challenges of connecting efficiently with rural health workers during his work at the Vula Emehlo Eye Clinic in rural Swaziland (officially the Kingdom of Eswatini), Dr. William Mapham with experience acquired during his time in New York and Washington designing mobile phone applications for healthcare. He founded Vula initially only for ophthalmology referrals and later expanded. The Vula mobile app has helped over 93,000 patients to date and data shows a 31% reduction in unnecessary referrals to tertiary hospitals. The app serves over 6,100 registered health workers on the Professional Network, and over 1,096 health facilities.