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U.S. Olympics team takes medical records electronic

U.S. Olympics team takes medical records electronic

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By digitizing the healthcare history of its athletes, Team USA hopes to speed diagnosis and treatment.

The U.S. Olympic Committee's storage facility in Colorado Springs houses thousands of records that will be digitized by the GE healthcare technology solution.

Team USA can cross one big task off its list for the London Olympics games and forthcoming events: finding a place to store thousands of pallets with boxes of paper medical records for its athletes. And then paying to transport all the records to that location.

That's because the U.S. Olympics Committee (USOC) is working with GE Healthcare IT and Performance Solutions to convert those records into an extensive electronic medical records system that will support the care of the more than 700 athletes who will compete in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Information for the volunteers who support the USOC is also being added over time.

Over the past three months, the USOC and GE Healthcare have been populating the system with current medical information for athletes who are expected to compete in London. While all of the legacy records aren't being added immediately because of the sheer magnitude of that data migration effort, any athlete who has suffered a recent injury is having that information included. The system will also include current laboratory and training results that could have a bearing on treatment during the games.

All of this information can be accessed both by the USOC medical staff and by the athletes themselves, according to the USOC and GE.

Dr. Bill Moreau, the USOC managing director of sports medicine, said that the electronic system is far more convenient than the existing paper trail the USOC doctors use. It will allow specialists to share images and diagnostics results more easily, which can help speed diagnosis and treatment. His team is working on customized forms that will allow it to collect far more details information than in the past, Moreau said.

The fact that the system can be accessed through an Internet portal -- from anywhere around the world where there is connectivity -- gives U.S. Women's National Team player Alex Morgan a sense of "ease." She said it has been a challenge in the past to gain access to records or updated health information. Long after the London games, the GE solution will help provide Morgan with secure access to her information regardless of where she is training or competing.

Jan De Witte, president and CEO of GE Healthcare IT and Performance Solutions, said the EMR solution being used by the USOC is based on the GE Centricity Practice Solution, which includes applications for records-keeping and practice management.

Benefits of the electronic system will include support for more collaborative diagnosis and analytics that will allow doctors to pinpoint trends and gain more insight into how various health factors affect athlete's performance, De Witte said.

The system supports the range of equipment that GE already provides to the USOC through its long-term sponsorship of the USOC, which extends through 2020. The software integrates with the GE diagnostic imaging systems used in U.S. Olympic Training Centers, including MRI, X-ray and ultrasound technologies.

(Photo courtesy of GE Healthcare)

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure