Local developers have created an mHealth app that is assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of acute burn injuries in under-resourced settings.

During the STIAS-Wallenberg Roundtable on mHealth in Healthcare, which took place in Stellenbosch on the 20th and 21st of February 2017, Prof Marie Hasselberg from the Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute in Sweden presented the app as part of a session dedicated to mHealth for clinicians.

The STIAS-Wallenberg Roundtable included around 40 delegates from Sweden and across Africa that gathered to examine implementing image-based mobile technology for diagnostics and treatment to improve access and equity in healthcare.

During her presentation, Prof Hasselberg explained that the app for acute burns project originally began in 2012 with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation and the Swedish Scientific Council.

The easy to use smartphone app doesn’t require training as it guides the nurse or healthcare worker through the steps of capturing an image of the patient’s burns and indicating the specific injured body surface(s). An integrated calculator then estimates the total body surface area that the burn injury affects.

Other structured patient data is then entered before all the information is sent for diagnostic, treatment and referral advice from a specialist in another location. Meanwhile predefined standardised care advice is provided immediately by the software to help the nurse.

Once the data is uploaded to the cloud server an SMS is automatically sent to a burn expert on call who then can access the cloud server with the app or a web browser, review the case and pictures, and respond with advice on how to treat the patient.

According to Prof Hasselberg, such an mHealth diagnostic tool is important because the assessment of acute burn injuries at the point-of-care is often inaccurate leading to inappropriate treatment and referral.

The app is constantly updated based on user feedback from both staff at point-of-care and burns experts. Updates to date have included ensuring quality images can be taken from different phones and of different skin colours, as well as an in-app chat function.

The app has also recently been incorporated into Vula Mobile’s referral platform. Vula started off as an Ophthalmology referral app and has since expanded to include specialist referrals for Cardiology; Orthopaedics; HIV; and Dermatology.

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