Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 17:59 UK

Heart patients treated over web

Consultant cardiologist Neil Sulke explains how the technology is used

Heart patients in Sussex are benefiting from technology allowing surgeons to assess them over a high-resolution internet video link.

Images taken at hospitals in Eastbourne and Hastings are fed to Brighton's surgical unit so doctors can discuss cases without travelling between sites.

Consultant cardiologist Neil Sulke said patients were getting the right procedures more quickly.

He said it had seen a complete change in the way patients were dealt with.

'World first'

"In the old days, we used to take the information with us and discuss it on a fancy machine either in Brighton or in Eastbourne.

"There was obviously potential for us losing information which doesn't happen now.

"And the other thing is that the surgeons have their point of view, the cardiologists their point of view, and we come to a consensus about what's best for the patient."

Dr Sulke added: "This has definitely improved patient management.

"They are getting the right procedures more quickly, without us having to sit in cars, travelling backwards and forwards."

He said it was a "world first" that could be taken up across the NHS and elsewhere.

'Pixel for pixel'

John Cooper, from Lifestream Healthcare which developed the technology, said: "We were asked by the consultants at Eastbourne and at Brighton to come up with a product that would allow them to remotely diagnose patient data.

"Video conferencing at the time wouldn't do it quality-wise, so we developed a system over the past couple of years, that enabled them remotely to look at the same vital information of a patient."

He added: "Quality is critical because if you've got any degradation at either end, there is always going to be a doubt that you are actually looking at the real piece of information."

He said the system took a screen from Eastbourne and replicated it in Brighton "pixel for pixel".

"It's a lot quicker and it's instant - they can be in a session immediately," he added.

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