South African mHealth startup, Vula Mobile, has been named among the world’s top 100 most inspiring social innovations using digital technology to drive social change around the world by the UK’s leading tech for good funder, Nominet Trust.

The 2016 Nominet Trust 100 (NT100) list features 100 organisations, including 11 African ventures, demonstrating the continent’s dedication to using tech for social change.

Now in its fourth year, the awards give special recognition to ‘Everyday Tech Heroes’ — the inspirational people who have first-hand experience of the challenges they are tackling with tech.

“Each year, our NT100 campaign shines a light on tech for good projects doing amazing work to address social challenges around the globe. Vula Mobile is an excellent example of how digital technology is being used creatively to provide rapid access to specialist healthcare expertise for those living in Africa’s rural communities,” said Director at Nominet Trust, Vicki Hearn.

“The award-winning work of Dr Mapham and his team is truly inspirational and we are thrilled to recognise them in our 2016 NT100,” continued Hearn.

Vula Mobile links primary healthcare workers in remote areas with on-call specialists, offering a referral service that enables patients to access specialist care quicker. The app’s chat function allows the healthcare workers making the referral to send photographs and chat directly with an experienced medical specialist.

When the app launched in 2014, it was initially designed for ophthalmology referrals but has since diversified to include 10 specialties including cardiology, orthopaedics and dermatology.

“The NT100 is an amazing place to be profiled. Our goal is to improve the public health system,” said Founder of Vula, Dr William Mapham.

“We hope that this exposure will reach people working in Provincial and National Departments of Health who are keen to further improve the system. It is as simple as switching from landline and paper referrals to using the Vula Mobile app, because everyone has a phone in their pocket,” continued Dr Mapham.

According to Dr Mapham, the POPI-compliant solution improves patient care in clinics and rural hospitals through case by case teaching, reduces workload and enables clinical governance.

The app is available on Android and iOS operating systems, and has over 2,000 registered healthcare workers in South Africa.

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