The NFL draft is getting underway, and the league has made a draft choice of its own: It has called on eClinicalWorks to create a mobile electronic health record that will be used by team caregivers to provide real-time access to player videos and information on how to diagnose and treat sports injuries.
Under a 10-year contract, the NFL will pay $7 million to $10 million for a system that would store X-rays, blood test results, physical exam notes, medications — even video clips documenting a game injury — in one online server that players and physicians could access from anywhere in the country.
Records will be instantly viewable on a smartphone or tablet by medical staff on the sidelines of the games. As players often move and switch teams within the league, the EHR will make it easier for player’s health records to move with them. The system will also be accessible at all 32 teams’ training facilities. And for a sport that’s taken some criticism recently for a high number of serious injuries, the system will provide a framework that could guard players’ health even further in the future.
“It brings a continuity of care to players regardless of whether they switch teams or move to another state,” said Dr. Anthony Yates, president of the NFL Physicians’ Society and head team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The technology will also allow researchers to tap into the medical records with names removed to analyze a vast treasure trove of data and learn more about field conditions that raise the likelihood of ankle injuries or the types of concussions that are likely to lead to early dementia.
At the moment, each team relies on its own medical records system, with some using paper records and others electronic systems that do not necessarily allow players to have access to their records when they switch teams or see doctors for second opinions.
“The NFL wanted an electronic health record that was usable across the entire system,” said Girish Navani, chief executive of eClinicalWorks. “This system will allow physicians to send prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy or an order for an X-ray or MRI. It can hold a workout regimen for rehabilitation and will allow trainers to examine X-rays from previous injuries to compare with new ones.”
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