The National Football League has signed a deal with EHR maker eClinicalWorks to transition the league from paper records to an all electronic system. The Boston Globe reported that the NFL will pay between $7 million and $10 million for the 10-year contract.
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.
At a speech last week at the Harvard School of Public Health, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke about several upcoming care innovations for the league, including ongoing research into putting accelerometers and other sensors into players' helmets and shoulder pads to make it easier to quickly assess whether a head injury is a concussion.
MC10, a wearable sensor technology company, has announced it will have that kind of impact sensor technology available early next year, in the form of a mesh skull cap released for hockey players through partner Reebok. MC10 definitely has professional football in its sights, as well -- the company's Sports Advisory Board includes NFL players Matt Hasselbeck and Matt Birk. (Correction: An earlier version of this story said MC10's product took the form of a hockey helmet. The cap will be adaptable so it can be worn under many different kinds of helmets.)
"The most significant innovation may be the use of video by medical staff on the sidelines to evaluate the mechanism of injury," he said in the speech. That video, in addition to standard EHR information like X-rays, medication records, and patient histories, will be part of the initial roll-out of eClinicalWork's system.
According to the Globe's report, there's also a potential big data angle to the new system. Researchers could use the records, with the names removed, to look at trends in football injuries and adjust best practices to minimize them in the future.
eClinicalWorks, headquartered in Westborough, Mass., calls itself a leader in ambulatory clinical solutions, extending EHRs beyond the walls of hospitals. The company says on its website that more than 410,000 medical professionals, including 70,000 physicians, use its records systems.
The NFL's announcement comes on the heels of a November 14 deal between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Cerner to move their 30 teams to an EHR system called HealtheAthlete. Similar to the eClinicalWorks system, HealtheAthlete will standardize health records across the league, help players who move or switch teams, and give medical staff access to players' health records on their mobile devices, eWeek reported.