PUBLISHED: 17:06 25 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:53 23 August 2010
HEART patients can now get instant diagnosis with the launch of a new high-speed broadband linking top cardiac specialists. Unveiled at Darent Valley hospital last week, the Kent and Medway Community of Interest Network (COIN) has revolutionised care for
HEART patients can now get instant diagnosis with the launch of a new high-speed broadband linking top cardiac specialists.
Unveiled at Darent Valley hospital last week, the Kent and Medway Community of Interest Network (COIN) has revolutionised care for people with heart disease.
Doctors can now send images of patients' hearts to specialists in London and receive them back within minutes using BT's broadband service.
Previously angiograms - moving images of the heart - needed to be saved onto a CD at their hospital and sent with patients to specialist treatment centres for diagnosis.
Tony Purchon, 56, of Hornbeams Road, Vigo, was one of the first to benefit from the high-speed services after suffering a heart attack on June 2.
He said: "They sent an angiogram of my heart to specialists in London, who decided I needed a stent [scaffolding] in my heart, which Darent Valley did very quickly.
"There would have been more steps in the process, and more appointments without the broadband connection, which could have taken weeks."
He added: "The whole experience was really professional. They explained everything in full, to me and my wife, so we were never left in the dark."
COIN runs across N3, the broadband network BT has built for the NHS in Kent as part of the National Programme for Information Technology. It was officially unveiled at Darent Valley hospital last Tuesday.
Angiograms will now be sent to London's Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Trust and King's College NHS Trust from all acute trusts in Kent.
The N3 network links up 162 medical centres across Kent and Medway, benefiting thousands of NHS patients who have routine or potentially life-threatening conditions.
Kent hospitals can now also transmit other high-grade images, such as X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans over the network.
Jagdip Sidhu, a cardiologist based at Darent Valley Hospital, said: "The moment a complex problem is identified, clinicians can work in remote teams to discuss cases, agree a consensus management plan and make appropriate referrals to specialist services. This means faster treatment and the best possible care."
In the future, broadband will allow GPs to view information like X-rays and medical notes in their surgeries when meeting patients, allowing them to monitor their own health in their own home.