Dozens of patients in Zimbabwe undergoing cleft lip and palate surgery had first learned about the opportunity from an SMS text to their phones, a small study found.

So-called mobile health, including text-message “blasts” to a wide swath of mobile phone users, could be the key to communicating with hard-to-reach patients in sub-Saharan Africa and other remote parts of the world, the authors write online November 16 in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

A majority of patients with cleft lip and palate in sub-Saharan Africa say a lack of awareness about available clinics and about the surgery itself is a major barrier to receiving care, Shaye’s team writes.