Monday, February 19, 2018

Innovations in Sports Science - Athletic Telemedicine

Last week, we started off discussing the innovations in sports medicine.  This particular discussion is going to be around the evolution of how we interact with our athletes.  Any of us that work in sports medicine know that the sooner an athlete can be assessed by a health care professional and get access to the medical referral process (when needed) that the better the long term outcome and the faster the athlete is able to return to sport.  There are numerous studies indicating that high school athletes having immediate access to a certified athletic trainer helps to reduce injuries, has a better long term outcome and has a substantial impact on the total health care cost.

A huge part of this impact outlined above is due to the ability to have minor musculoskeletal injuries evaluated by a health care professional who understands musculoskeletal injuries, who can aid in early intervention and aid in navigating the health care process for those that require further intervention.  Despite the fact that this is common knowledge in the respective health care fields and in the industry, not all athletes have this level of access.  But what if athletes could have this level of access.  How could that be done?

Telemedicine is defined as the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.  This is a relatively new approach in health care with new telemedicine companies and platforms popping up all over the US.  But what if this same type of approach were applied to athletes.  This is where Health Roster comes into play.  Healthy Roster (HR) initially positioned itself as an athletic training electronic medical record that is HIPAA compliant.  HR is both a web-based interface which also provides an app that is available for the clinician as well as the athlete.

How this is being used in sports medicine is not only as a athletic training electronic medical record but also as an athletic telemedicine tool.  How this works as a telemedicine tool.

With this tool, a sports medicine provider can offer this to their clients or community.   An athletic trainer or physical therapist has an account and offers the service to a client, sports organization, school or club.  The club then offers this to their athletes.  If an athlete get injured, then they download the free app and enter a code that is provided by the sports medicine provider.  Once the athlete has entered the code and their information, the app will notify the athletic trainer, physical therapist or other qualified health care provider immediately.  Once notified, the health care provider can then contact the athlete immediately through the app via a phone contact or Facetime.

By using Facetime, the health care provider can provide a limited assessment of the athlete immediately.  If treatment is appropriate, they can give this immediately to the athlete and document all this within HR.  This allows both the health care provider a record of the information and the athlete something to go back to for instructions that they may not remember.  If a referral is required, this can also be done immediately through the app to the affiliated physician.

By leveraging this as an athletic telemedicine tool, the athlete, school or organization can be provided with a health care professional and expertise despite limited resources.  For the health care provider, they can now provide a level of service what was not previously able to do with limited bandwidth and resources.  Although telemedicine does not and will not replace a quality face to face interaction with your health care professional, it does provide a valuable alternative when no other resource is available.   

Stay tuned as we continue this discussion next week.

Dr. Nessler is a practicing physical therapist with over 20 years sports medicine clinical experience and a nationally recognized expert in the area of athletic movement assessment.  He is the founder | developer of the ViPerform AMI, the ACL Play It Safe Program, Run Safe Program and author of a college textbook on this subject.  Trent has performed >5000 athletic movement assessments in the US and abroad.  He serves as the National Director of Sports Medicine Innovation for Select Medical, is Vice Chairman of Medical Services for USA Obstacle Racing and movement consultant for numerous colleges and professional teams.  Trent is also a competitive athlete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

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