Quintiles signs five-year deal with NFL to track injuries

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

NFL has a bleak history when it comes to the way it deals with players' injuries
NFL has a bleak history when it comes to the way it deals with players' injuries

Related tags Epidemiology

The NFL (National Football League) may be getting more serious about its players’ health as it recently signed a five-year agreement with Quintiles to continue and expand upon its Injury Surveillance and Analytics (ISA) service to track player injuries and understand trends in injury occurrence.  

Quintiles and the NFL have been working together since 2011, when the Quintiles epidemiology group was tasked with designing a new application that would modernize the league’s existing Injury Surveillance System (ISS).  

Quintiles’ expertise in epidemiological methods allows it to provide insights about risk factors for sports injuries including issues relating to rules, equipment and types of surface.  The analytics are conducted in response to questions posed by the NFL, its teams, health and safety committees, physicians, athletic trainers, players and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and is shared with those groups in a series of reports and face-to-face meetings over the football season.   

News of Quintiles’ involvement with the NFL is another indication that the league is taking the health of its players and former players more seriously. On Monday the league also announced the hiring of Elizabeth Nabel as the NFL's first chief health and medical advisor. 

The shift comes as more than 4,500 former players have filed suit against the league over their health issues related to playing the game, with some accusing the league of fraud for its handling of concussions. The NFL ultimately settled those lawsuits​ last summer, paying out $870m to players with neurological conditions and for other testing and medical research. 

For last season, Quintiles began conducting injury surveillance using the NFL’s newly implemented league-wide electronic medical record system, which can enhance the ability to understand the setting and impact of injuries.  

Conducting analytics using EMRs and other game-related information substantially broadens our understanding of player health and safety​,” said Christina Mack, Quintiles associate director of epidemiology.  “Applying epidemiologic methods to these data provides a more complete picture of changes in injury occurrence over time​.” 

The NFL Injury Surveillance and Analytic service originates with Quintiles’ Real-World & Late Phase Research business unit.  As part of its observational research and patient registry services, this group provides programs for characterizing diseases, evaluating safety and effectiveness of medical interventions, understanding and improving patient outcomes, and implementing risk management programs, in addition to sports injury research. 

This partnership presents a unique opportunity for Quintiles to leverage our epidemiological and real-world research expertise​,” said Nancy Dreyer, senior vice president and global head of scientific affairs at Quintiles. “Through our innovative and rapid analytic approach, Quintiles connects insights with superior delivery for better outcomes, providing objective analysis in a timely manner​.”  

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