Radiologists Now Have Real-Time Link with NFL Sidelines

PACS gives radiologists and NFL national network to share player images.

Radiologists caring for professional football players in the National Football League (NFL) now have a tool at their fingertips that will make it easier to diagnose injuries in real time, during a game.

Announced earlier this month, INFINITT North America, a healthcare imaging and information technologies company, cemented a 10-year partnership with the NFL for the use of Smart-NET, a web-based PACS that maintains digital images across multiple data centers. This HIPAA-compliant system will let properly-credentialed providers see a player’s new and old images instantly from any stadium, team facility, or physician’s office.

“We rely on medical images to make on-the-spot decisions about players’ injuries,” NFL Physicians Society President Matt Matava, MD, said in a written statement. “INFINITT Smart-NET will retain all the players’ images in high-security data centers.”

In addition to improving real-time patient care, he said, this PACS could make it easier for team physicians and other specialists to collaborate.

Smart-NET will serve all 32 NFL teams and connect more than 100 sites nationwide, including training camps, team facilities, and the NFL Scouting Combine, as well as several leading healthcare institutions. The PACS will also be closely integrated with the NFL’s electronic medical record in order to maintain and make available all players’ imaging data, including any pre-NFL scans.

While some stadiums are currently equipped to transfer images via their PACS to the visitor locker room, this partnership marks the first time player images will be simultaneously available nationwide.

Although Smart-NET will now be used on the sidelines to assist radiologists and other practitioners in potentially making more rapid, accurate diagnoses, the PACS is already in use outside the sports industry. And using it in every day practice has proven beneficial, said Bradley Schmidt, CEO of California-based Inglewood Imaging Center.

“INFINITT Smart-NET cloud-based RIS/PACS was a good choice for us,” he said. “We’ve experienced 400 percent growth since we implemented it.”

He also said he anticipates the PACS will keep pace as the practice grows and could switch to an onsite system without service disruption, data migration problems, or a need to retrain employees.