Video Games Are Designed To Get People Hooked. Now That Addiction Is Being Officially Recognized By Medical Field.
The World Health Organization says that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a new mental health condition. “It’s going to untie our hands in terms of treatment, in that we’ll be able to treat patients and get reimbursed,” said Dr. Petros Levounis, the chairman of the psychiatry department at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Meanwhile, developers are trying to cure our addiction to our smartphones with an app.
The New York Times:
Video Game Addiction Tries To Move From Basement To Doctor’s Office
Video games work hard to hook players. Designers use predictive algorithms and principles of behavioral economics to keep fans engaged. When new games are reviewed, the most flattering accolade might be “I can’t put it down.” Now, the World Health Organization is saying players can actually become addicted. (Hsu, 6/17)
The Washington Post:
Compulsive Video-Game Playing Now New Mental Health Problem
The U.N. health agency said classifying “Gaming Disorder” as a separate condition will “serve a public health purpose for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue.” Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO’s department for mental health, said WHO accepted the proposal that Gaming Disorder should be listed as a new problem based on scientific evidence, in addition to “the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world.” (Keaten and Cheng, 6/18)
The Washington Post:
Rebel Developers Are Trying To Cure Our Smartphone Addiction — With An App
To understand why it’s so hard to pry yourself free from your phone, Facebook account and Twitter, you need to know about B.F. Skinner’s pigeons. In the 1950s, Skinner began putting the birds in a box and training them to peck on a piece of plastic whenever they wanted food. Then the Harvard psychology researcher rigged the system so that not every peck would yield a tasty treat. It became random — a reward every three pecks, then five pecks, then two pecks. (Wan, 6/17)
And in other news at the intersection of health care and technology —
Therapy Apps: As Suicide Rates Rise, Do Apps Damage Or Deliver?
Following the birth of her third child, Kristin Rulon took a birth-control shot that triggered a wave of depression and anxiety. The 32-year-old suburban Kansas City, Missouri, mother and writer explored natural remedies before joining the millions of Americans who’ve turned to mobile-device apps that offer therapy via text messages. A therapist from the BetterHelp app in early 2016 typically exchanged three to four daily texts with Rulon from morning to bedtime. The access was great, Rulon said, but the $28 weekly charge for unlimited texting not covered by health insurance became too expensive. And Rulon worried that texts could not convey everything she wanted to share. (Alltucker, Connor and O'Donnell, 6/15)
Google Is Training Machines To Predict When A Patient Will Die
What impressed medical experts most was Google’s ability to sift through data previously out of reach: notes buried in PDFs or scribbled on old charts. The neural net gobbled up all this unruly information then spat out predictions. And it did it far faster and more accurately than existing techniques. Google’s system even showed which records led it to conclusions. Hospitals, doctors and other health-care providers have been trying for years to better use stockpiles of electronic health records and other patient data. More information shared and highlighted at the right time could save lives -- and at the very least help medical workers spend less time on paperwork and more time on patient care. But current methods of mining health data are costly, cumbersome and time consuming. (Bergen, 6/18)
Citing Weak Demand, IBM Watson Health To Scale Back Hospital Business
Top executives of IBM’s Watson Health division told employees at a meeting on Wednesday that they are scaling back the part of their business that sells tools to help hospitals manage their pay-for-performance contracts, citing softening demand in the market, according to a source who attended the meeting. This represents a major shift in business strategy for Watson Health, which has invested billions of dollars to win lucrative contracts from hospitals seeking to reform their payment systems to focus on patient outcomes, instead of the volume of care they provide. The effort was central to Watson Health’s efforts to help realize the promise of personalized medicine and improve the efficiency of care. (Ross and Swetlitz, 6/15)