The future of race medicine

Posted on 25 September 2019

Mediclinic unveiled Scinapse, a cutting-edge patient-records app, at the 2019 Cape Town Marathon.

Mediclinic provides quality medical assistance at a range of renowned sporting events in South Africa, including the Absa Cape Epic, Cape Town Cycle Tour and HSBC Cape Town Sevens. Recently, at the 2019 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, Mediclinic brought more than its usual team of experienced and dedicated doctors and nurses – and took a bold new step into the future of race medicine.

The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is the first and only IAAF Gold Label Status marathon in Africa, having won the coveted label in 2017. To be awarded IAAF Gold Label status, every aspect of the event must comply with the strictest global standards: its carbon footprint must be as low as possible, prize money must be awarded equally between male and female winners, and runners must have access to the best roadside medical care.

Each year, Mediclinic brings a team of 8 doctors and 11 nurses to provide medical assistance and care all along the route, as well as a fully equipped field hospital – equipped with 22 beds, four of which are configured for comprehensive intensive care – at the finish line, ready to welcome any athletes who require medical attention.

“Being involved in sports events of this calibre is an honour,” says Dr Darren Green, race medical director of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon and leader of the Mediclinic events team. “The team members return year after year to bring quality medical care because this is such an exciting and prestigious race.”

The Mediclinic team is supported by a number of highly trained ER24 advanced and intermediate life support paramedics, who travel the route alongside runners, monitoring athletes for signs of illness or injury, and responding accordingly, when needed. 

This year, they were armed with more than their skills and experience. A new, easy-to-use mobile application, called Scinapse, was introduced at the event for the first time.

Developed by a local team of developers, AUX Studio, the app was designed to help the Mediclinic corporate events team adhere to a rigorous, accurate and paperless system of logging incidents and recording patient details, on the fly. Every time a participant reports to a water point or field hospital with a complaint, that event is logged – along with the symptoms they experienced, the treatment they received, the medication they were prescribed, and outcome: whether they were discharged to continue the race, withdrawn or referred to a hospital.

Scinapse allowed all doctors and nurses at the event, whether they were stationed in the finish-line hospital or at water points along the route, to have a full picture of each potential patient’s medical history and records.

“This app is an exciting and important development in race medicine in SA,” says Sr Caroline Murray, Clinical Logistics Coordinator: Mediclinic SA, “as it helps us with our primary goal: keeping athletes safe. We want to be able to anticipate adverse events, such as injuries and illnesses, and keeping good clinical is a key part of that.”

By recording and storing clinical data from the race, Mediclinic was equipped to help prevent such events on the day, and will be empowered to do so at future events as well, Sr Murray explains. “If we have a picture of conditions and how they affected the runners, we can then know how many athletes are likely to suffer from heat illness, for example, and we can plan accordingly. We can staff the hospital appropriately, and bring the right equipment and medication along as well, as we will have a baseline to work from.”

“Scinapse gives an innovative way to improve our exacting science, by being even better-prepared for mass participation events,” says Dr Green. “It allows us to keep accurate records, by recording types of injuries received, with the touch of a finger, a safe and reliable way. It also gives me the opportunity to have an overview of an event in real-time. With this app, I can, for example, see at different stages of a race what’s happening at Waterpoint 1, 2, or 3, look at the surge capacity at nearby hospitals, and examine what could be any contributing environmental factors, race factors or safety factors that we could address to make the route safer as the race continues.”

Scinapse is a new and exciting addition to the number of measures that have been put in place to ensure that this is a safe event for all participants, says Dr Green. “By working closely with other emergency service providers, we play a key role in medically supporting these athletes. With the expertise we have on board our team, Mediclinic and ER24 are fully prepared to meet the exacting standards required to treat any and all expected conditions on the day.”

Published in Innovation