For many patients who travel for work, finding comprehensive medical care in case of an emergency can be difficult. Professional football players with the NFL have found that keeping track of an electronic medical record (EMR) is crucial to receiving necessary treatment. Unfortunately, many hospitals save EMRs in different formats, making the information difficult to share between facilities.
NFL owners, coaches, and players have played a large role in standardizing EMRs among hospital systems. Many hospitals have claimed that technology was the largest barrier to integrating EMR use, but a report issued by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology states that that is not the case. Instead, EMR vendors drive up costs and make sharing patient information difficult.
Because a football player’s medical history becomes part of their employment, it is important to have an EMR accessible to coaches and team owners. The player’s health history is used during team bargaining and team physicians will need to be able to see the player’s medical records during check-ups. To keep patients’ information as private as possible, a firewall keeps physicians from other teams from seeing the EMR. If a player switches from the Steelers to the Broncos, for example, the Steelers’ physician will no longer have access to that player’s medical records.
As the NFL continues to integrate EMR sharing, hospitals around the country are starting to take notice. Having a reliable way of communicating lab results, radiological images, and medical records in a timely manner is crucial to being able to treat patients effectively. In addition to being an effective way of treating patients, EMRs can be used to collect data for research regarding health trends, once it has been anonymized. As the demand for standard EMRs grows, patient care will continue to improve.