Electronic Follow-Up of Developing World Cleft Patients: A Digital Dream?

Tom W.M. Walker*, Ambika Chadha, William Rodgers, Caroline Mills, Peter Ayliffe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To identify potential access to telemedicine follow-up of children with clefts operated on a humanitarian mission. Methods: A cross-sectional study of parents of children presenting to a humanitarian cleft lip and palate mission in a Provincial Hospital in the Philippines. A purpose designed questionnaire was used to assess access to electronic and digital resources that could be used to aid follow-up. Forty-five (N = 45) parents of children having primary cleft lip and or palate surgery participated. There were no interventions. Access to the Internet was through Parent Perceived Affordability of Internet Access and Parent Owned Devices. Results: Thirty-one (N = 31) respondents were female. There was 93% mobile phone ownership. The mean distance traveled to the clinic was 187 km. Majority (56%) were fluent in English. Thirty-one percent accessed the Internet daily. Sixteen percent reported use of e-mail. Fifty-one percent accessed the Internet on a mobile device, and short message service use was the most affordable means of communication. Conclusions: Due to perceived unaffordability and low levels of access to devices with cameras and the Internet, as well as issues with privacy, we cannot recommend relying on electronic follow-up of patients in the developing world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-851
Number of pages5
Issue number10
Early online date19 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • pediatrics
  • rehabilitation
  • teledentistry
  • telemedicine
  • telesurgery


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