NFL to Use EHRs for Care Coordination, Injury Tracking

The NFL will work with eClinicalWorks to adopt EHRs across the league and store medical histories and game-day injury reports all in one place.

The National Football League is kicking off a league-wide effort to digitize health records. The NFL will use eClinicalWorks' electronic health record (EHR) platform to streamline coordination of care for players.

Announced Nov. 19, the multimillion dollar deal will allow NFL doctors and trainers to access health records and radiology images and share them with second-opinion physicians, said Girish Kumar Navani, CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks.

In addition to typical EHRs, which include information on patient medical conditions, digital records for the NFL will help doctors and trainers track players' rehab and physical therapy, Navani told eWEEK.

The news follows the Nov. 14 announcement by the National Basketball League to implement Cerner's EHR platform for all 30 teams.

"The NFL prides itself in staying ahead of current health care developments," Tony Yates, president of the NFL Physicians Society and member of the EMR Committee for the league, said in a statement. "Electronic health records are the next logical step and we look forward to partnering with eClinicalWorks on this initiative."

Coaches and trainers will get a "play-by-play" feed on players' conditions so they can track injuries, said Navani.

"They're going to use mobile devices on the sidelines as well, so this makes it a very real experience, not just to be used at the clubs and at the practice facilities, but it will be used during game day," said Navani.

When an injury report comes back, trainers will be able to view images of an injury on the sidelines on a mobile device, said Navani. Images from a picture archiving and communications system (PACS) will flow into the device.

To view the medical records, doctors and trainers will use iPads and Windows Surface tablets, depending on the team's preference, said Navani.

Players will also have access to a patient portal on smartphones, he added.

"The health and safety of our players continues to be our No. 1 priority," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told eWEEK in an email. "We are continually improving everything we do to make the game safer, including rules changes, developing next-generation equipment, research and partnerships."

Using technology from companies such as eClinicalWorks allows players to access data at team facilities, in the locker room and on the sidelines, said McCarthy.

"This solution will help medical staff with secure real-time information to make decisions that will benefit the player," said McCarthy.

eClinicalWorks and the NFL will add additional features to the platform along the way to meet the league's needs in tracking players' health, said Navani.

The software incorporates features to provide coaches' reports and enable care transition during trades, said Navani.

Players decide how the health records are shared, according to Navani. The application is partitioned to allow for access by individual teams, he said.

In addition, team doctors will be able to share player records with doctors using different EHR platforms through eClinicalWorks' P2P health information exchange, called Join the Network.

The NFL will implement the EHR application over two seasons, according to Kaiser Health News.