Accelerating the future of healthcare with better remote care options for cleft lip and palate babies

Posted on: 1 July 2021

Parents travelling long distances to see a surgeon to agree options for new-borns with cleft lip and palate could be a thing of the past, thanks to new technology connecting clinicians with patients and families in their own homes. 

Leeds Children’s Hospital is trialling the virtual consultation and remote imaging capabilities of the TytoCare digital solution, in partnership with the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, NHSX and the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network.

Emma Blair holding the TyTo device.jpgEmma Blair, lead nurse for the cleft lip and palate service at Leeds Children’s Hospital explained:

“To agree surgical options for children with a cleft lip and / or palate, and review postoperative healing, consultants need a high-quality view of the inside of the mouth. Currently, we can only do this by seeing the patient face to face at the hospital. However, Tyto’s virtual capabilities, which includes a hand-held assessment tool, means the nurse can visit the patient’s home to capture high quality images to share with the surgeon and plan surgical care options.

“Clinical nurse specialists obtain postoperative images and share these with the surgeon to review  post-operative healing. At the moment, the surgeon has to see the patient face to face to do this. Using Tyto technology means we can provide high quality images that enable better-informed remote clinical decision making.”

Before COVID-19, patients would have to travel -  sometimes long distances - for appointments at the hospital, meaning time out for parents and carers who may also be working and have other commitments. The clinical team also needed to travel to outreach clinics to review patients.

Emma Blair added:

“Making best use of digital solutions and delivering more care remotely not only cuts down on travel it helps to avoid unnecessary visits to hospital, especially important right now when people might not want to be in a healthcare environment. Ultimately that means safer, greener, more accessible and convenient healthcare – and people can stay in the comfort of their own home and in familiar surroundings too.”

The pilot of the TytoCare solution went live for cleft lip and palate patients on 30 June 2021.  The pilot will continue until April 2022. During this time, the service will seek views from families to evaluate the pilot and determine if we will continue to use the TytoCare digital solution. This is the first of more than 20 pilots of TytoCare being trialled with patient groups across Yorkshire & Humber. Most of these pilots are within the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership region.

Clefts of the lip and palate are not uncommon and about one in every 700 babies born each year in the UK will have a cleft involving part of the lip or roof of the mouth.

Leeds Children’s Hospital provides both secondary care and specialist tertiary care to the population of Leeds and the surrounding area. It is also a regional centre for a number of specialist services including cleft lip and palate surgery.


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