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Racing for Life: PHRs Help Athletes Cross the Finish Line
Monday, January 25, 2010 | Margie Kelly

You pushed yourself during the 10K race and your core body temperature surged.  You’re delirious, in the medical tent and no one knows your name much less your medical history or how to reach your family members.  You have Bib #153 with no personal information for race administrators to begin the identification process.

This scenario occurs on a far too regular basis around the world of road racing and it’s time to address the dangerous situation with personal health records.  PHRs are safe, green and they make sense.

August first dawned warm, humid and bright as 5613 runners queued at the start line in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.  Dr. Mike Baumann, the TD Banknorth Beach To Beacon Co-Medical Director, described it as the perfect storm…medically.  Within minutes of the 8 AM gun runners being ferried on stretchers or in the arms of medical volunteers slammed the B2B medical “MASH” tent.  Over 100 competitors needed immediate attention.  Core body temperatures reached 107.5 degrees and asthmatics gasped for breath.  Numerous underage runners cried as they were eased into ice immersion treatment tubs.  (This is basically a cattle trough filled with iced or tepid water for cooling down the over-heated before serious complications attack the hot body.)

Some of these B2B patients had supplied medical and emergency contact information in a complimentary Internet-based PHR service offered to each runner in the on-line race registration process.  The co-branded B2B-PHR 5 minute fast form included a medical release for the event.  The runners could print a summary card, the synopsis of their medical information, to carry while running because the percentage of athletes injured while training continues to rise at an alarming rate and most have no identification.

The experienced B2B medical team guaranteed safety on race day and PHRs made it easier.  The runner’s registration/bib number was linked to the individual’s PHR and its unique emergency access code.  The encrypted PHR information, which features SSL protection and requires a user name and password, was made available to the medical tent with the runner’s permission.  The physicians could view the PHR but could not change or edit the information.

Remember our encephalopathic runner wearing Bib #153? 

Chris Troyanos, Boston Marathon and B2B Medical Coordinator, first suggested linking a PHR to the bib number.  The runner goes down on the course.  The onsite emergency personnel radios Bib #153 is being taken to the medical tent.  The medical tent retrieves the medical summary information linked to Bib #153 to prepare for treatment.  The family is advised.  Should the runner require transport to an ER, the tent would have them review the runner’s Internet-based PHR and again let the family know where to go.

While we consider PHRs a necessity for the elderly, travelers and those suffering from chronic illnesses, it is high time to educate these active, mobile, intelligent and health conscious competitors.  Exposing these athletes to the time and cost saving aspects of a PHR should help them accept and utilize a national system of electronic medical records.

The 5 minute fast form PHR requested only emergency contacts, medications, allergies and any significant medical history.  The runner didn’t need to bother with tonsil or gall bladder removals but medical situations, like asthma, heart disease, etc. and problems the event’s medical team needed to know for quick and appropriate treatment, should have been recorded.  Once the runners activated the fast form, they could take advantage of completing a more detailed PHR.  Most users complimented the PHR’s ability to cut down on duplicate testing and a method for documenting immunization records and wellness testing.

I blog today from the finish line of The Maine Cancer Foundation’s TriForACure, another event which offered free PHRs to its 600 female competitors.  Many of these women are cancer survivors and many first-time triathletes.  The event begins and ends at the seaside campus of Southern Maine Community College.  Many red raced, sweating women stream by my vantage point enroute to the massage or medical tents.  Some have PHRs but some do not.  Many family members ask if I can track down their “missing” person since I’m working on my computer from the medical transport gator. 

Dr. Eric Hoffman, Tri4ACure Medical Director, said they’re busy in the finish line tent.  They lacked ice immersion treatment but he had identified a path to quickly transport women from the medical tent to the cold Atlantic Ocean.  I congratulate Dr. Hoffman for using his common sense and really, that’s what using a PHR is all about.

Today’s first casualty, a 67 year old male spectator who required transport to a local hospital, may have suffered a heart attack.  I look at thousands of other spectators milling around the event and wonder what percentage has a PHR in hand or on line.  I realize we have a lot of work to do getting Americans in the race for safer, healthier lives with a personal health record.

Tags   personalhealthrecord, phr, emergency, medicalhistory, athletes, runners

About This Blog

Welcome to the Athletes’ PHR blog. This communication forum will provide you with a connection to health information management professionals for information and new ideas to better manage your personal healthcare. As the blog grows, you will be able to connect with other athletes to share experiences and exchange ideas about best practices for managing your health and personal health information to help you reach your peak performance.

Blog Contributors

Marsha Dolan, Valerie Watzlaf, Cindy Boester, Heidi Shaffer, Julie Wolter, Margaret Hennings, Colleen Goethals, Vera Rulon, Leah Grebner, Robert Caban, Mynilma Olivera-Vazquez, Amanda Bushey, Margie Kelly, Donna DuLong, Sarah Dietze, Valisha McFarlane, Maria Kovell, Ted Eytan, Leann Reynolds, Laura Heuer, Kristin Stewart, Derek Allen, Chris Matthies, Margo Corbett, Craig Newmark, Sarah Buelterman, Skyler Tanner, Aniruddha Malpani, Joan Malling, Marilyn McFarlane, Megan Rooney, Patrick Rhone, Dr. Carrie Nelson, Maria Bouselli, Erin Jordan


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