Officials from the National Football League (NFL) announced on Monday that the organization will begin transitioning from the hand-written records it currently uses to keep track of players’s health to electronic medical records (EMRs) that will digitally record players’ injuries and general health histories.
The new system will be phased in over two seasons and eventually implemented across all 32 professional football teams. While the NFL’s shift to EMRs won’t make football safer in and of itself, it will help ensure that team medics and private physicians can more easily share players’ medical histories, as well as allow doctors to monitor sensitive head injuries in real time:
Records will be able to move with a player, should they be traded to another team, and are touch and speech-capable. Girish Kumar Navani, the CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks, says the implementation of EMRs creates a much more fluid system of care coordination.
“We are making the scope of this medical data digital. Which means the pharmacy will be connected electronically, as well as the labs and the diagnostic medical imaging centers.” All this, Navani says, will be shareable with the team as well as other medical staff.
Incorporating video streaming is a new feature for eClinicWorks, and Navani says that it will allow doctors will be able to see what exactly caused a player’s injury. Currently the NFL has an injury reporting system in which data is entered manually, but Navani says that the new EMRs will sync with the current technology of the league, including a web-based application about concussion injuries.
In recent years, football safety has come under increased scrutiny after mounting evidence that the numerous concussions and other brain-related injuries sustained during the sport can lead to serious health problems for former football players, including Alzheimer’s and Lou Gherig’s disease. In fact, studies suggest that retired NFL players are four times more likely than the general population to die of those brain diseases.
Obamacare requires hospitals and doctors’ offices to upgrade their systems to incorporate EMRs to make information-sharing among a patients’ various care providers complete, simple, and efficient. By getting a head start on upgrading its systems for football players, the NFL may just be poised to get a better handle on its ongoing physical injury problem through high-tech monitoring and consolidated patient records.