A few of the highlights from the past year at Vula. Things have come a long way from our initial launch in July 2014.

Double the users…

The number of health workers registered on Vula more than doubled from 1,775 at the beginning of January 2017, to more than 3,600 a year later. In November last year we compiled some maps that show where our registered specialists are based, and where our non-specialist users are. We were blown away by how widely distributed our users are across South Africa.

…more than double the impact

Growth per quarter, July 2014 to December 2017.

We measure our 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.

Beyond the impact on individual patient care, Vula has been recognised as an experiential training tool. Primary health workers learn case by case how to manage conditions with specialist guidance. The University of Pretoria and the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Family Medicine Departments are using Vula to monitor and train their medical and clinical associate students remotely.

Impact research from Stellenbosch Orthopaedics

Dr Richard Morkel presented his research from Tygerberg Hospital at the National Orthopaedic Conference in Port Elizabeth in September 2017. The presentation was titled Vula Orthopaedic Emergency Referral App – a successful alternative to traditional referral pathways.

Tygerberg Hospital has a catchment population of 3.4 million people, and treats 1,100 to 1,400 orthopaedic emergency cases per month. Richard studied 8 months’ referral data, collected automatically on the Vula dashboard.

The highlight from the research was the fact that 33% of the Vula referrals were managed by giving the referring doctor advice on how to manage the emergency at the primary health centre. This means that fewer patients needed to be transported to get specialist guided healthcare.

The referral outcomes of Vula referrals to Tygerberg Orthopaedics over an 8-month period.

The Head of the Orthopaedics Department, Dr Jacques du Toit, said, “This is an extremely important and effective medium that has improved our services immensely.”

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.

New specialities and teams

In January 2017, Vula featured 9 specialities. During the course of the year we added General Surgery, Internal Medicine, Oncology Emergencies, Paediatrics and Obs & Gynae. We’re working on adding new specialist referral forms during 2018. Get in touch if you’d like to start using the app to receive referrals – it’s free, and takes just a few minutes to set up.