NFL moves to EHRs

Will incorporate video feed into electronic record to help with treatment

The National Football League (NFL) will make the switch from paper to electronic health records, contracting with ambulatory vendor eClinicalWorks to serve 32 teams nationwide.

"The health and safety of our players continues to be our number one priority," Brian McCarthy, NFL's vice president of communications, tells Healthcare IT News. "We want to provide team medical staff with the latest technology that will help with their care and treatment of players in real time at the team facility, in the locker room [and] on the sidelines. This solution will help medical staff with secure real-time information to make decisions that will benefit the player."

“The NFL prides itself in staying ahead of current healthcare developments,” said Anthony Yates, MD, president of the NFL Physicians Society, in a statement.

Yates, a physician at UPMC and team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is also a member of member of the EMR Committee for the National Football League.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to enhance the organization," he said. "Electronic health records are the next logical step, and we look forward to partnering with eClinicalWorks on this initiative."

The NFL is implementing EHRs across the organization to streamline processes between locations and coordinate care, officials say. All 32 teams will have access to the EHR system, which will be accessible at stadiums during games, on the sidelines and at the training facilities.

Girish Kumar Navani, CEO and co-founder of Westborough, Mass.-based eClinicalWorks, says this implementation has some similarities to certain other ambulatory EHR deployments.

"It’s not very different in capabilities from an orthopedics and physical therapy clinic," he says. "eClinicalWorks has had orthopedic and physical therapy components within the EHR, so this will be the same system as we traditionally implement, with a few added features."

Still, Navani says that "extensive club visits" have led to the incorporation of some capabilities to the EHR that reflect "the uniqueness of the NFL."

One big difference? "In this implementation, there will be a direct video feed from the NFL for players, play-by-play, and we are integrating these feeds into the EHR," he says. "The League will be able to view video footage in the EHR of the injury occurring, which will help with treatment plans and follow-up once the player is off the field."

And, of course, there are other features necessary for an EHR tailored toward athletes playing a dangerous game, where injuries are common. "The EHR will connect with labs, radiology, PACS imaging and a concussion app," says Navani.