The Olympics are a time when countries rally behind their athletes, leading to a stronger sense of patriotism and a heightened sense of team pride and spirit. This Olympic spirit prompts people to tune in to many sporting events they wouldn’t normally watch and might know little about. As a result, Olympic spectators learn about the sport, the judging, and the athletes. They often learn about the perseverance of the athletes, the sacrifices they’ve made, and the challenges they’ve overcome, including, in some cases, recovery from extensive injuries in record-setting time to qualify and participate in the Olympics. One of the most notable stories from this year’s PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games is how Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris nearly died after a nasty backcountry crash in March of 2017, recovered and was awarded a bronze medal just 11 months later.
Unfortunately, with so many world-class athletes competing for a chance to medal, the Olympics can be a time of many devastating injuries, often live-streamed across the globe. In addition to some major crashes, Olympic medical centers see athletes with non-emergency injuries and illnesses like a pulled muscle or the flu, and non-sport related health concerns such as dental checks.
“Their (Olympian) Herculean efforts must be matched with superhuman clinical speed and quality. AMS helps clinicians do just that – by making data and actionable insights readily available to the treating clinicians.”~ Jorg Debatin, Vice-President & CTO for GE Healthcare
As both information and medical technologies advance, the equipment and resources used in the Olympic Games will improve. This year’s Winter Olympic Games has introduced the first ever cloud-based athlete management solution and state of the art medical equipment across its medical venues.
PyeongChang’s medical care venues
The 2018 Winter Olympics featured medical stations at every venue, polyclinics for minor injuries and initial athlete treatment sites in front of the athlete towns, plus two Olympic hospitals. In addition to these medical stations, there was also a separate mobile medical team for each venue, designated for urgent medical emergencies.
The Athlete Management Solution
With this many medical facilities, there were 2,355 medical professionals including 311 doctors working or volunteering throughout the Olympics. In order to compete, an athlete must submit various medical records to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and with 2,952 athletes, that’s a lot of documents. Medical professionals must be able to access these records before treating an athlete to ensure the best care possible, and with medical professionals and athletes coming from so many countries and so many languages, the records must be translatable. With all of these requirements, GE Healthcare and the IOC designed an athlete management solution (AMS) that collected multiple data points and stored them in a secure online cloud database. The AMS provided real-time dashboards to inform medical staff of the athlete’s medical history, available in a variety of languages- enabling team doctors to work and collaborate with other medical staff in their native languages. In addition to the benefit of seamless care, the embedded cloud AMS allowed remote access to data by clinicians regardless of the time or their location. This remote access allowed the athlete’s doctors and staff in their home country to view data and assist in creating treatment plans.
The Medical Equipment
In addition to creating the AMS, GE Healthcare also provided medical equipment to be used in the polyclinics (located in PyeongChang and Gangneung) and in medical stations of venues without access to a polyclinic (Bokwang and Jeongseon in Gangwon Province). The polyclinics were outfitted with 2 digital mobile x-ray units, 4 diagnostic ultrasound machines, 4 patient monitors and 1 picture archiving and communication system (PACS).
It is as a result of the dedication of many medical professionals, easy access to the latest medical equipment and quick access to athlete’s medical records through the AMS that athletes of the PyeongChang games will receive quick diagnoses and effective treatment plans.
“Individual patient knowledge helps to quickly build rapport between doctors and athletes, and patient confidence in the prescribed course of action.”
With advances in information technology, medical imaging, and medical equipment medical staff, team doctors and athletes were able to communicate, view results and create treatment plans. With this level of collaboration, an injured athlete is better able to understand what injuries they’ve sustained and find peace of mind that they were receiving the best treatment possible.
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Click here for more information about the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Games.