Health IT Pulse

Nov 20 2012   1:12PM GMT

NFL, eClinicalWorks call for EHR conversion

Alex Delvecchio Alex Delvecchio Profile: Alex Delvecchio

EHR implementation
EHR vendors

The National Football League announced they will convert from their paper medical records in a deal with eClinicalWorks, in which they will use the company’s electronic health record (EHR).

Tony Yates, M.D., president of the NFL Physicians Society and member of the EMR Committee for the National Football League, said in a news release “The NFL and its healthcare professionals pride themselves in maintaining a leadership role in sports medicine developments.” He described the EHR conversion as “the next logical step” for the league.

Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, spoke about health issues concerning the league last week in an address at the Harvard School of Public Health. He mentioned recent rule and equipment changes, specifically new helmet designs, aimed at reducing head injuries. In the full text of his speech, he mentioned the use of technology such as iPads and cell phones, which are allowed to be used on the sidelines by team medical staffs.

Paper records have few, if any, benefits over EHRs. An initial slowdown of workflow is a commonly used argument against EHR implementation, but use of EHR systems saves time over paper records in the long run. Medical records are updated automatically after a patient visit or evaluation when using EHRs. Electronic access to records is beneficial for organizational reasons because NFL teams are responsible for documenting the health of more than 50 players on each roster, totaling more than 1,800 league-wide. Other sports organizations also have adopted electronic records for emergency planning to help save time and improve communication when dealing with severe injuries.

The cost of EHR implementation is one of the main barriers to entry that the NFL overcame.  A survey of physicians indicated that 52% of doctors were more likely to adopt EHR technology due to the government offering incentive payments for use of EHRs. In that survey, 29% of respondents categorized EHR technology as too expensive. Overall use of EHRs by physicians has increased rapidly in recent years, from under 20% in 2009 to more than 50% in 2012.

Ease of accessibility of patient records is a benefit that EHRs provide. A patient’s medical data is all centrally located in one electronic file. EHRs have also increased the accuracy of medical records because doctors are now responsible for entering patient data. A reduction in unnecessary procedures like duplicate tests can be avoided with EHR technology, as well.

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