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Implementing an Electronic Point-of-Care Medical Record at an Organized Athletic Event: Challenges, Pitfalls, and Lessons Learned

Wells, Hamilton J MD; Higgins, George L III MD; Baumann, Michael R MD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: September 2010 - Volume 20 - Issue 5 - p 377-378
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181efada5
Brief Report

Objective: We examined the feasibility of implementing an electronic health record (EHR) at an international running event.

Design: Institutional review board-approved observational study.

Setting: An annual international running event supported by an on-site medical facility.

Participants: All registered athletes.

Intervention: Web-based EHR provided at no cost. Participants were asked to populate it with essential health data. The EHR was accessed for runners requiring medical services.

Main Outcome Measures: Obstacles to EHR utilization, reliability of EHR functionality in the field, and ability to correctly match runners to their EHR.

Results: Only 320 (5%) of the participants utilized the EHR. Repeated notification, no cost, and ready access proved to be insufficient drivers for use. Lack of reliable Internet connectivity hampered full functionality. “Bib swapping” may pose a risk for participant misidentification with resultant electronic medical error.

Conclusions: Barriers to the successful utilization of an EHR were identified. Despite education and promotion, voluntary participant enrollment was a challenge. Mandatory enrollment will be required if universal EHR adoption is the goal. Internet connectivity needs to be logistically planned. Future efforts should focus on measures to ensure that EHRs are correctly matched to participants. Bib swapping must be eliminated if athletes are to be identified by their assigned numbers.

From the Department of Emergency Medicine, Maine Medical Center, Portland, Maine.

Submitted for publication December 9, 2009; accepted June 29, 2010.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: George L. Higgins III, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Maine Medical Center, 47 Bramhall St, Portland, ME 04102 (e-mail:

Copyright © 2010 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.