National Football League players will be a little safer on the gridiron this season thanks to a Phillipsburg, N.J., company.
Infinitt North America, a provider of image and information management technologies for health care, has signed a 10-year contract with the NFL to provide on-demand access to player’s medical images on the sidelines at games.
The contract – its dollar value was not disclosed – occurs at a time when the NFL is under increasing scrutiny over player injuries, particularly concussions. Recently, the league agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit brought by former players over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players.
Deborah Reed, marketing manager for Infinitt, said the contract will allow the medical staff and care providers for all 32 NFL teams on-the-spot access to all of a player’s X-rays, MRIs and other related medical information in order to assure that he is obtaining the best and most coordinated care.
The Infinitt Smart-NET network will span more than 100 sites across all 32 club entities, including training camps, the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, designated team facilities and several of the top health care institutions across the nation.
While the Infinitt Smart-NET system has many applications in the care of players, one of the most important and most visible uses of the cloud-based technology will be on the sideline at games, Reed said.
“We rely on medical images to make on-the-spot decisions about players’ injuries,” said Dr. Matt Matava, president of the NFL Physicians Society. “Instant access to images among caregivers will improve collaboration among team physicians, specialists and other health care providers.”
Reed said the idea to use the technology came from a team physician who was concerned over his accessibility to players during games.
Traditionally, if a player is injured, he will be sent to the locker room for X-rays, Reed said. The team physician then will check the player and his X-rays to see how serious an injury is and decide if the player is able to play.
However, while that physician is in the locker room with that player, another player could be injured on the field.
“And his concern was he might not be able to get to that player in time,” Reed said.
With the Smart-NET system, records and images will be immediately available to the physician on a tablet computer on the sidelines of the game.
The technology that the NFL will be using with Infinitt is not new. Reed said it was developed in the mid-1990s and has been in widespread use at most hospitals for more than a decade.
This contract, however, is an expansion of the concept on how such technology can be used.
“Currently, most health care providers copy the players’ images to CD /DVD, but these aren’t always on hand when and where you need them,” said David Smarro, CEO of Infinitt North America. “With the Infinitt system, digitized images can be transmitted electronically over the Internet and viewed in multiple locations simultaneously. This is particularly valuable when two or more physicians need to consult on the player’s condition or diagnosis.”
Reed noted that the system should not only improve care and coordination, but it should also save money on having to store and transport medical imaging and information.
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