USOC goes paperless for care of athletes at London games

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) will deploy integrated EMR and practice management technology to manage the care of more than 700 American athletes competing in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which begin in July, and for 3,000 additional records maintained by USOC staff.

GE’s Centricity Practice Solution will replace paper charts previously used by the USOC to manage care for Olympic athletes. The EMR will offer doctors and caregivers faster access to athletes’ medical records and enable more targeted care.

"It's definitely, for the Olympics, the right time to jump on [EMRs] now," said Jan De Witte, CEO of GE Healthcare IT and Performance Solutions. "The EMR has shown its value for healthcare in driving quality, both with completeness of data and speed of decision-making."

Set to go live in June, the London deployment will "be, for us, a record-speed implementation," said De Witte. "We're doing it in less than 90 days." So far, the process has gone well, he reported, especially with the training for the 100 or so people on the USOC medical staff who'll be using the Centricity technology.

Part of that preparation involves populating the medical records with the "relevant information for 700 athletes and close to 3,000 staff and volunteers" who will be in the system, said De Witte. From June through the closing ceremonies, all information related to the athletes' health and performance is going "straight into the EMR."

“The introduction of GE’s EMR technology is a big step forward for the USOC sports medicine program,” Bill Moreau, MD, managing director of sports medicine at USOC, said in a statement. “EMR technology will allow us to better monitor and analyze the health of Team USA athletes, not only when they receive care at our facilities, but also when they are competing and training around the world. Our elite athletes have dedicated themselves to performing at the highest levels in sport and I believe this technology will help us to support them with the highest levels of sports medicine.”

“My extensive training and playing schedule takes me all over the world and the last thing I want to worry about is my medical records," added Alex Morgan, forward for the U.S. Women's' soccer team. "Knowing that not only will my doctors have quick and easy access to my information but that I will as well, no matter where I am, puts my mind at ease. It allows me to not worry about injuries and focus on the task at hand – in this case, winning the gold for Team USA in London.”

Of course, when it comes to athletics, imaging is crucial to diagnosing injuries. In London, De Witte said the GE Centricity Practice Solution will integrate with Centricity PACS-IW technology for medical record image viewing and storage. GE provides a range of diagnostic imaging equipment to the U.S. Olympic Training Centers, including MRI, X-ray and ultrasound.

The EMR deployment is "not a one-time use," De Witte emphasized. "This is a platform that will stay with the USOC for the years to come."

Indeed, on May 24, GE and the USOC also announced an extension of their sponsorship partnership to the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia, to continue through the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro, the 2018 winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2020 games. GE’s USOC partnership started in January 2005.

With regard to care delivery, the hope, of course, is to not have to make much use of the EMR – that all 700 U.S. athletes stay healthy as they quest for gold medals.

"Sure, let's hope you don't have to use it to deal with big injuries," said De Witte. But he also pointed out that another crucial use of the system is Centricity's analytics capabilities, which can track and monitor performance.

"Over time, the medical record history…and the capability to interface with our database will allow the USOC to go into real performance analytics to understand what treatment plans have the best outcome for the athletes," he said. "The real value is going to be having the protocols and the treatment plans and the preparation plans, based on benchmarking data and historical trending of the athletes."

The deployment at the 2012 London games is "a great test case on how to use EMR data to optimize medical care for performance," said De Witte. And by the time the torch is lit for the 2016 games in Rio, that knowledge will only have grown.

As data from more and more elite athletes "further populate the system," he noted, "every year, the value of the analytics capabilities will increase."

Photo attributed to David Holt via Creative Commons license.

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