U.S. Olympics to Debut Electronic Medical Records
The U.S. Olympic teams will use electronic health records instead of paper files for the first time this year, Time magazine reported. The high-tech move will save the U.S. Olympic Committee from having to ship to London thousands of pounds of paper medical records.
Olympic athletes tend to have hefty records. They see eight doctors each, on average, and during the games, every encounter they have with a health care provider is recorded, from receiving ice packs to getting MRI scans.
The new electronic system, which athletes can choose to join or decline in favor of paper, saves time by making it easy for Olympic doctors to see an athlete's medical history. The Olympic Committee is also excited about having the digitized medical data available to analyze, so researchers can look for patterns that show which treatments are most effective. If researchers decide to use U.S. Olympians' electronic records for a study, they'll render the data anonymous for the study.
General Electric created the system just for this year's Olympics, but plans to sell the system to others soon, Time reported.
What's most surprising about this news is how low-tech U.S. athletes' medical records were before. As Time wrote:
For Beijing, the files literally took a slow boat to China, says Dr. Bill Moreau, managing director of sports medicine at the USOC. "Heaven forbid that an athlete would actually need something from their record while it’s being shipped, or on the ocean, or stuck in a harbor," he says.