USA Today is reporting that the San Francisco 49ers are joining seven other teams in a pilot program covering distribution of player medical information within and among teams. The most recently collective included a clause covering this "Electronic Medical Record System".
Article 40, Section 3 describes it as follows:
Section 3. Electronic Medical Record System: The NFL shall develop and imple ment an online, 24-hour electronic medical record system within 24 months of the effective date of this Agreement or such longer period as the parties may agree. Fifty percent (50%) of the costs of developing and implementing such system shall be a Player Benefit Cost. Once implemented and operational, the cost of maintaining the system thereafter shall not be counted as a Player Benefit Cost.
According to USA Today, data including X-rays, imaging studies, notes and other stuff would be stored on iPads belonging to NFL medical staffs. When a player gets hurt and comes to the sideline, the medical staff would have all the necessary information at their fingertips in an efficient manner.
Where this gets even more interesting, and arguably more controversial is in free agency and trades. The report states that when a player changes team, the medical data could be transferred to the new team. Given that it is digitally based, that is not all that difficult.
The issue that will need to be negotiated is the timing on potential transfers of information. Players have to go through physicals when they are talking to teams as free agents, or in the midst of a potential trade. If a player's current team has detailed medical records, will that information be available to all other teams at the same time, or will it be transferred after a deal is done? It sounds like the plan is after the fact, but it is something the NFL and NFLPA will need to negotiate before this is made available across the league.
For now though, the 49ers remain on the cutting edge. This is something multiple teams are doing, but it's not surprising to see the 49ers involved. The 49ers have been quite visible in their use of technology to improve team efficiency. This particular example is going to eventually involve the rest of the NFL, but for now, the 49ers get to be one of the first.