Doctors at KEM Hospital have turned to the most ubiquitous personal technology - the smartphone - to speed up diagnosis of patients with suspected heart complications.
They have started using the popular smartphone messenger 'WhatsApp' to send pictures of patients' electrocardiograms (ECG) to each other for a quick review, saving time spent on reaching the emergency ward and checking the actual report.
The approach enables them to begin the treatment of a person who has suffered a heart attack within the crucial golden hour, the period when emergency care is most likely to be successful. Delay in proper diagnosis and treatment during this period results in amajority of cardiac fatalities.
In fact, over 60 per cent of patients who have suffered a heart attack reach the hospital way beyond the golden hour, the average being about five hours. So every moment they spend waiting for the doctor to arrive and study their ECG increases the risks.
"The moment a patient walks in here complaining of chest pain or any other related problem, a specialist takes out an ECG and sends the image to the doctors on hand," said Dr Prafulla Kerkar, head of KEM's cardiology department. "We, in fact, have a WhatsApp group where the experts in our department are signed in."