No longer will the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have to ship pallets of paper around the globe to keep track of medical data from athletes competing at an Olympic Games. For the first time, all athletes and spectators at the Games will be able to have their health interactions managed by an electronic medical record (EMR).
Building upon the pioneering success of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) use of GE’s Centricity Practice Solutions (CPS) EMR platform at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the IOC will be rolling out an EMR platform built specifically for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as a part of its gold-medal medical services.
“The Olympic Games is about providing the best possible service to athletes,” said Dr. Richard Budgett, Medical and Scientific Director for the IOC. “Adding access to an electronic medical record is key to providing the best technological support to our healthcare partners coming to Rio from all over the world and for our own IOC mission of driving towards the prevention of injury. The EMR is going to be a cornerstone for our medical services going forward.”
The newly customized EMR system is available in English and Portuguese and was designed to help enhance the clinical productivity of the hundreds of healthcare providers coming to Brazil for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. It will work as a fully connected network where scans, medication records and injury history can all be seamlessly tracked for each athlete.
Learning from the USOC
While leveraging an EMR during Olympic competition will be a new practice for most healthcare providers attending the Rio Games, it will not be for the USOC and its managing director of sports medicine, Dr. Bill Moreau.
“It wasn’t that long ago, we used paper and pencil medical records,” said Dr. Moreau. “They were totally inefficient, completely illegible and by the time they got back to the United States, they were relatively useless. We knew we needed to manage to that, so we went to an electronic medical record at the London 2012 Olympic Games with GE’s Centricity Practice Solution. Now our athletes, regardless of where they are in the world, have access to their medical records. This has absolutely made a difference to the individual athlete as well as to us in sports medicine who manage the athletes.”
The EMR serves as more than just a repository for patient information and clinical images. By using the data that is derived from the individual as well as composite data from their teams, it has helped Dr. Moreau and his medical team develop strategies and interventions to preserve an individual’s health, prevent injuries and also promote their sports performance as well as that of the team. For example, in part because of incorporating an EMR platform into their capabilities, according to Moreau the USOC has been able to reduce surgeries in its Women’s National Team by 60% per year, 4 years going.*
The addition of the EMR technology has not only made Moreau and his staff more confident about the breadth of medical services they can offer athletes, but the impact on Olympic athletes, who are arguably the most mobile population in the world, has been tangible and in some cases, life-saving.
“There are multiple tiers for how the EMR has influenced and driven the medical services we provide. In this day and age, it is important that athletes have access to their own health records,” he added. “This improved access to information has been incredibly valuable. One particular case was from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. We had a spinal cord injury (SCI) athlete that had a very hard fall while snow skiing. He had a fracture-dislocation of his hip and bilateral pulmonary contusions that compromised his ability to breathe.”
“So we brought him in to Frankfurt, Germany for additional care with some partners of ours. When he came out of the air ambulance in Germany, he was unable to speak for himself. When we went to the emergency department, the physicians were trying to get his health history and get an understanding if he had any allergies, but he was unable to say anything. By being able to access his health record on my smartphone, I was able to learn he had significant allergies that would influence his course of care as well as identify the amount of anti-coagulants he already had on board. It’s not hard to imagine that just a year or two prior to that, we would have been unable to access that information. So being able to access that information had a profound impact on his management.”
For Ron Pruitt, Dev. Ops Leader for GE Healthcare IT, it’s thanks to Dr. Moreau’s forward-thinking approach that Rio 2016 will be host to the first EMR platform accessible to all countries and athletes competing.
“The primary aim of the EMR is to not just make the physician’s job easier, but also the athlete’s,” said Pruitt. “We’re providing medical teams with the ability to manage these athlete’s care at a level that hopefully keeps them competitive at a world stage. To see how the USOC used the EMR platform before, during and after Games time – It was a pretty powerful statement to the IOC. They were really amazed at the amount of diagnostics that we were able to drive as well as the data that we collect from the EMR application. So that really set the stage [for Rio].”
Stay tuned to The Pulse on the Road to Rio 2016, as we shine the spotlight on the healthcare behind the athletes.
*Testimonial from Dr. Bill Moreau