NFL embraces diagnostic imaging, EHRs

August 15, 2013 in Medical Technology

The Buffalo Bills announced Wednesday they will partner with Carestream Health to develop new imaging technology aimed at early detection of brain injuries. It’s just the latest development for a league that’s deploying health IT in football stadiums nationwide.

The Buffalo Bills will work with Carestream and Johns Hopkins University to research and develop new 3D imaging systems, including a cone beam CT system developed for musculoskeletal radiology and orthopaedic imaging of extremities, with applications ranging from traumatic injury to arthritis and osteoporosis, officials say.

This partnership seeks to develop new technology not just to drive earlier diagnosis and assessment of injuries, but to develop medical standards that indicate if an athlete can return to play. It will also study long-term degenerative medical conditions of the head and brain.

“The NFL supports initiatives that will help us better understand the impact of traumatic brain injuries and the effect on players’ health, with the goal of advancing sports medicine to provide better care for all athletes,” said Russ Brandon, president and CEO of the Buffalo Bills. “This collaboration is an important step that will help with this effort.”

Carestream has installed a new CARESTREAM DRX-Ascend System and a DIRECTVIEW CR System at Ralph Wilson Stadium to enable the Buffalo Bills medical staff to instantly access X-ray images and determine whether a player can return to a game or a practice session, or if further treatment is necessary.  

“By working with clinicians and sports medicine experts to obtain information that will aid in our development of advanced medical imaging solutions for head and other injuries, we have an opportunity to apply our expertise to help improve the lives of athletes and people in our communities,” said Diana L. Nole, president of digital medical solutions at Carestream.

“The prevalence and severity of TBI has come dramatically to light in the last decade,” said Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. “Our work will create a system capable of detecting TBI at the point of care, leveraging a major advance in imaging capability to confidently diagnose subtle brain injury and direct patients to appropriate therapy, avoid repeat injury and stem the debilitating effects of undetected disease.”

Beyond imaging technology, the NFL will also be using electronic health records league-wide this fall. Healthcare IT News reported in 2012 that it had contracted with Westborough, Mass.-based eClinicalWorks to serve its 32 teams

“The health and safety of our players continues to be our number one priority,” Brian McCarthy, NFL’s vice president of communications, told Healthcare IT News in November 2012. “We want to provide team medical staff with the latest technology that will help with their care and treatment of players in real time at the team facility, in the locker room [and] on the sidelines.”

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