Remote proctoring for global cleft care

dr. usama hamdan remote proctoring

Co-founder and President of the Global Smile Foundation, Dr. Usama Hamdan MD, FICS, has been providing outreach cleft care for the past 35 years. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, his non-profit foundation currently provides outreach interdisciplinary cleft care in four different countries coupled with several educational initiatives.  

Dr. Hamdan spoke to us about how his foundation uses Rods&Cones devices as part of a program of distance proctoring.


On the cutting edge of technology for cleft care

Global Smile Foundation is the largest provider of cleft surgery in Ecuador, where they account for around half of all cleft operations. Having established a cleft center in Ecuador, they’re also planning to roll out similar centers in  Lebanon, and Peru. Global Smile Foundation works with several international organizations – including the United Nations High Commision for Refugees (UNHCR), the Red Cross, and UNICEF.


Alongside cleft surgery, his team of between 50 and 60 expert volunteers provides speech, dental, orthodontic, and social support as part of a comprehensive cleft care service. Five years ago, the foundation set up a Comprehensive Cleft Care Workshop (  to empower and enhance the skills of local surgeons and other cleft providersworking in different countries. It’s a chance for world leaders in cleft care to share their expertise with almost 500 attendees.


Having been involved in augmented reality surgery for over 9 years, Global Smile Foundation was the first organization to publish it in a peer-review journal. For the past 7 years, they’ve been using augmented reality to train local partners.


Highly precise guidance from outside the OR

Rods&Cones technology has huge potential to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes. Through remote surgical assistance, Dr. Hamdan has provided highly precise guidance to colleagues based in Ecuador and Turkey – right down to 0.5 mm of the marking and incisions.


As the world’s top surgeons cannot be on-site and in-person at every surgery, remote proctoring is one of the tools that will enable the training of experts and enhance the quality of care. Global Smile Foundation recently published a roadmap for sustainable cleft care. As part of a broader package of training, from hands-on and fellowship training to workshops, remote surgical assistance technology can help medical experts share and improve surgical skills and techniques around the world.


Comprehensive cleft care education


“With Rods&Cones you’re as strong as the remote expert on the other side. For instance, I guided one of my colleagues on the marking of the lip.”


– Dr. Usama Hamdan MD, FICS, Co-Founder and President of the Global Smile Foundation


Being able to offer expert surgical guidance remotely has huge implications for multiple surgeries, especially for patients in remote parts of the world, who might be miles removed from specialist care.


By connecting them with experts from other parts of the country, or the world, they can access a higher level of healthcare. This applies to both medicine and a range of other specialties. 


Dr. Hamdan and his team at Global Smile Foundation are currently putting together a comprehensive training program for cleft care and cleft training, in which technology from Rods&Cones will be instrumental in furthering the surgeons’ skills, giving more children around the world their smile back.


He also sees an opportunity to set the guidelines for delivering safer care around the world for patients and their families.

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