Game changer: Dr William Mapham examines a patient at Tygerberg Hospital. Mapham is the co-founder of the eye app.

Cape Town – Vula mobile app co-founders Dylan Edwards and Dr William Mapham have developed an app to improve the health service conditions in remote areas. The mobile app, Vula Eye Health, conntects remote health workers with medical specialists.

The app makes it easier for health-care workers in rural areas to carry out eye tests, connect with specialists and make referrals.

The app is already being used to make referrals to five hospitals across the country, including Tygerberg Hospital where Edwards and Mapham’s offices are based. Clinics in areas like Worcester and Bredasdorp now have access to specialists at Tygerberg through Vula mobile.

An estimated 80 percent of all blindness is preventable or curable and in the majority of cases blindness can be prevented or cured through simple, effective and inexpensive procedures like cataract operations. Mapham said the main cause of blindness isn’t a lack of treatment options, but rather a lack of access to decent health care.

Mapham saw the potential for technology to improve referral networks while working in a hospital in a rural area in Swaziland. “Inefficient referral networks are a drain on resources. 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.”

With Vula mobile rural health-care workers can look up eye conditions, capture patient information and carry out eye tests using a smartphone. The app’s chat function also allows the health-care workers making the referral to send photographs and chat directly with an experienced medical specialist.

Edwards said clinics in rural areas often battle to pick up serious eye problems.

Vula mobile app is one of the companies which will be taking part in this weekend’s Sparkup! 2015 programme and live investment initiative, where over R1 million in funding will be up for grabs at the Graduate School of Business in Cape Town. It is one of 15 start-ups hoping to get investment and they will compete to get the most experience and investment opportunities. – [email protected]