Beginning this season, NFL doctors have access to a host of health IT tools designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of player injuries, especially potential concussions, the New York Times reports.
Previously, cell phones, radios and monitors were prohibited on the sidelines of NFL games because they could provide teams with an unfair advantage. However, the league recently changed its technology rules to improve medical services, according to the Times.
NFL's Use of Health IT
After testing the technology late last season, the NFL has launched a sideline replay system for injuries. Each team places a certified athletic trainer in the press box during each game. That trainer is responsible for alerting the team's medical staff of potential injuries and operating replays for the team doctors to study.
In addition, 16 teams are using iPads to conduct standard league concussion assessments. The technology is expected to be expanded to all 32 teams next season. In addition, some teams are using iPads to view digital X-ray results.
Meanwhile, the league is hoping to implement a cloud-based electronic health record system next season, according to Ronnie Barnes, vice president for medical services for the New York Giants.
Some teams already store players' health records electronically, but a league-wide system would eliminate redundancies, the Times reports.
For example, a top-level free agent might undergo health screening -- including X-rays -- during visits to five or six teams, according to Barnes. He said, "Electronic medical records league-wide would save a player from a lot of unnecessary radiation" (Borden, New York Times, 10/20).