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Athletic Heart: Mobile, Preventive Screening For Athletes

From the hotel suite to the gymnasium floor, Orlando, Fla.-based medical screening company Athletic Heart is mobilizing and modernizing the preventive testing of professional athletes.

For decades, athletes preparing for competition have undergone medical screening to ensure their bodies are up to the task. The screening traditionally occurs within the confines of a hospital imaging center, or inside an outpatient clinic. Athletic Heart is changing all that, and it’s using the cloud.

“We kind of bring a hospital imaging department to you,” Athletic Heart CEO Wesley Stokes said. “ECG’s, ECHO’s, Carotids, we can do ABI’s…We can be pretty extensive as far as screening goes.”

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Athletic Heart does more than just travel with expensive equipment. The company travels with a team of technicians, medical and IT, as well as licensed sonographers and cardiologists. Working as a unit, Athletic Heart’s staff greatly expedites an athlete’s dreaded preseason physical.

“Typically within an hour and a half to two hours, we can run them through a full series of testing and provide a finalized report and a follow up plan if needed,” Stokes said. “It’s a few hours of their time and they have a diagnosis, and walk out with it on a thumb drive.”

Athletic Heart utilizes VidiStar, a picture archiving and communications system (PACS) designed to organize digitally created images and medical reports. VidiStar plays a significant role in Athletic Heart’s mobility. Data is quickly transferred from Athletic Heart’s equipment to laptops on site and then immediately uploaded to VidiStar’s cloud-based server.

Athletic Heart’s VidiStar database has developed into a researchable archive of medical screening data points. Data from the test results of past athletes can potentially be studied to make breakthroughs in the fields of medicine as well as athletics.

“We currently have some physicians that are very interested in that data to try and enhance (research),” Stokes said. “How do you get a better performance? How do we make the longevity of a retired guy a little better? How do we help manage their health a little better?”

Prolonging the longevity of retired athletes is no small concern, particularly when it comes to alumni of the National Football League. Athletic Heart was contracted in the week preceding Super Bowl LI to screen 130 retired NFL players as part of the Healthy Body and Mind Screening Program spearheaded by the NFL Alumni Association.

The screening event drew positive reviews and bodes well for a future work relationship between Athletic Heart and the NFL. “Ultimately we see this as something that we’d like to develop into a long term partnership, Stokes said. “And we think it can, especially given how things went off this past week.”

Ultimately the strength in Athletic Heart’s business model may lie in its versatility. The company has proven itself as a high volume player by screening scores of athletes at combines for the MLS and NHL, but can also cater to groups as small as 10 Stokes said.

“If you say, ‘Hey, I’ve got 10 guys’ or if you say you’ve got 150, we can make it work,” he said.

Competitors are likely to emerge, but Athletic Heart seems to have a leg up in a field that highly values convenience. The company is adopting an anywhere, anytime approach.

“What I envision for us is, being the preeminent company out there as far as athletic screening goes,” Stokes said. “Regardless of sport, or event.”