The most common form of facial malformation in new-borns is a gap in lip, jaw or palate, known as cleft palate. In Sweden, there are six units that manage these patients, including Nus who are responsible for all babies born in Northern Sweden.
Since 2011, the so-called lip, jaw and palate team (LKG team) at Nus offers long-distance patients with isolated cleft palate their first visit via video or webcam. Östersund Hospital was the first to test the approach. These first visits, which should be held within 1-4 weeks of the child's birth, aims to inform parents and give the team an opportunity to observe the child and gather information needed to plan future treatment. These visits usually involve speech therapists, plastic surgeons and coordinators from the LKG team and nursing staff from the referring unit at the home hospital, usually the ear-nose and throat or paediatric unit. Approximately 80 percent of all first visits for children with isolated cleft palate, 5-10 patients annually, are managed via video.
The main benefits are reduction in travel, better transfer of information to the local medical staff, but also improvement of the skills of the local staff and their capacity to provide professional support to the parents. On occasions, the LKG team in addition provides parental dialogs and follow-ups via video calls.
This text has been originally released in the following report: Telemedicine Survey in the County Council of Västerbotten -An analysis of the present situation, conditions and areas of improvement.