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Use of Computer Videogames for Psychological and Medical Purposes – III

Promotion strategy in the academic area
Together with selling software and data analysis services, academic research will be pursued to demonstrate effectiveness of the system. Psychology units in Buenos Aires will carry the initial research. Joint agreements will be proposed to international professional or scientific institutions interested in the new instrument.

Competitive advantages of the Argentina as producing of Software in the psychological field
Argentina possesses a well trained and inexpensive work force, both in the Programming and Psychology areas. Local psychological and psychoanalytical schools have a good reputation around the world.

Most of the professionals in these two areas are located in Buenos Aires, where the initial phases of the project will take place.

Other possible applications of the product.

The software and the statistics could be useful to those studying the mechanisms of attention and learning.

The creation of a tool for creating and measuring ADDICTION can be applied to the research in other types of addiction, psychological or chemical.

The structure created for development and marketing of Psychological Software could be applied to other similar products.

Specific background of the author of this proposal.
Physician. Dr. in Medicine.
Research Scientist in Argentina and USA.
Writer and publisher on computer topics.
Software publisher.
Author of the books “PC Computing for parents and teachers” and “The Art and the Science of the PC games “.
Author of a Scientific publication: “Attitude of Schizophrenics to Computer Video Games”. S.R.Samoilovich et al. “Psychopathology”, 25 (1992), 117-119.
“Technological Entrepreneur” Workshop, 1996.
Current activity: scientific and technical communication in INTERNET.
Webmaster of the EMPRETEC (Technological Entrepreneurs) Foundation, Argentina.
Secretary-General of the “Argentine Association for Medical INTERNET and Bioinformatics”.

Characteristic of the Market for this type of product.
The “parent controllable” games will appeal to a large population of concerned game buyers, with children aged 4 to 10. They will also address those parents that are anxious to measure manual ability and general intelligence of their kids.
Both the ADD software and the remote diagnostic services can be sold to concerned parents of hyperactive children and to mental health professionals. There are no geographic limitations, and the software will run on any PC.
Since the products are unique in its category, they could be relatively high priced.

Use of Computer Videogames for Psychological and Medical Purposes – II

Remote psychological advice.

The unit executing this project will make and sell the module, and keep a centralized data analysis center.
This center will have several roles:

– to collect the encrypted files sent by the users
– to keep statistics on them, taking into account geographical, ethnic, cultural and other factors.
– to inform registered users about their relative efficiency or abilities in the game. Abnormal results will result in a “See your doctor ” sign.
– to provide mental health professionals complete reports of their patients’ psychotechnical performance in games.
– to inform game companies about how their products are being used.

Computer games for diagnosis and treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

    Infantile hyperactivity

About 5% of the world infantile population suffers of this psychological disorder, also called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). These children rapidly jump from a topic to other, have difficulties to concentrate in any type of task or game, and suffer learning disorders.
ADD is the most common reason for consulting a child neurologist. This condition is often attenuated with age, although scholastic lag and social adjustment difficulties can persist.
Diagnosis of ADD is hard to establish, because there is no conclusive single medical or psychological study that defines it. As a result, many children are straddled in borderline situations either at psychological or neurological level.
There is no medical consensus on the causes of this disease, neither on its treatment. Some children respond well to medications (tranquilizers, psychoactive drugs), which must be administered for several years.

Computer games are very effective in capturing child and adult attention. Addiction to them is not usually considered pathological, even when users spend most of their free time at the screen.

Several facts indicate that ADD children could be attracted to videogames:
1) there are a few publications in favor of (but not against) using videogames in clinic situations.
2) the ADD children are normal in the rest of their psychological aspects.

The current literature (Medline and the WWW) does not mention videogames for attention testing (yet).

Advantages of a software with videogame interface that could capture the ADD children attention:

    Diagnosis:

1) the attention span of children could be measured.
2) the software could differentiate the attractive capacity of various stimuli (different topics, standards, colors, sounds, etc.).
4) these collected data can assess the effectiveness of medical, psychological or pharmacological treatments.

    Treatment:

5) since most games tend to increasingly capture users’ attention, the game could become a treatment for the hyperactive condition. Besides, they could be used to reinforce positive behaviors.

Features of the ADD software:
– Game-like interface.
– Reward upon completing levels
– Election between different proposals (puzzle, ping -pong, car race, etc.).

The games can be programmed from scratch, modifying existing shareware or commercial packages with the data collection module.

Games for this purpose do not have to be very sophisticated. Simple games with a few options each can be very addictive, and are best suited for this purpose. (Tetris, Pacman, Pong, Breakout, Aliens).

Either Linux, Mac or Windows platform will be acceptable.

Marketing strategy
The ADD software could be the first product equipped with the data collection module, because it can easily introduce the mental health professionals and the game companies to the “parent controllable” concept.
A simple version of the ADD game will be released as freeware, intended for parents and educators. It will be promoted and distributed thru INTERNET.
A more complete version of the game will be sold with the data collection module. The encrypted file could be sent by e-mail or by conventional methods to the headquarters of the company, together with payment. There, a psychologist will compare the patient’s data with those of the average population.
Mental health professionals will be able to acquire a version of the software that will not encrypt the data, or to subscribe to a complete service of data interpretation.

Use of Computer Videogames for Psychological and Medical Purposes – I

A research and product development proposal

Use of the computer games in Psychology.

Many psychological tests are being implemented in personal computers, and some have a game-like interface. Videogame-like psychological tests are easy to implement in children and in adults with a negative attitude to conventional tests. These tests are currently applied to eye-visual coordination, manual abilities and a few other parameters, some of them related to intelligence, attitudes or values.
Games can be very addictive, and youngsters can spend too many hours in front of them. Standard videogames are not commonly used as tests, because they do not test a single parameter, but a complex set of mental and physical abilities. Videogames usually display a single score at the end of a session that reflects overall performance or completion of levels, disregarding most other parameters that could have psychological value.
A standardized data collection module , like the one proposed in this project, could transform most current games in multivariable psychological tests. These tests could acquire diagnostic value with the availability of a large data base of reference results. This data base would allow each individual to be compared with other players of similar conditions (age, sex, exposure to videogames).
Sigue leyendo

Privacy concerns over EMR systems

I was researching EMRs for a Congress presentation, as I mentioned before, and the privacy concerns were among the top issues for both doctors and medical administrators.
It is known that Google and Microsoft are making progress with their products, expecting everyone to have online EMRs in short time. It caused me a little trouble to try them, because they are only available in the USA, and I had to browse them with a proxy.
It is known that Microsoft has a very limited online EMR, HealthVault, but they purchased Amalga, a top-level EMR solution and they are trying it in several US hospitals. Amalga comes from “amalgamate”, or unite, because it unites several sources of medical information about a single patient.
Google Health has also a limited version online, but they are working on a full solution. The question is about the future free EMR from Google. Will it have Adsense ads?
How will anyone feel checking his own EMR on Google and finding ads related to his condition? It will be ok if the guy is diabetic and finds ads about insulin syringes. But what if he has terminal cancer and finds ads about coffins and private cemeteries?
Sorry for being blunt. It just came first to my mind.
free EMR by Goog

Medical Knowledge Marketplace

Imagine a situation where a complicated case is exposed to an unexperienced doctor, far from a high complexity center.
Today, the universal EMR is very uncommon. Even when broad-band Internet connections are widely available in most cities, most patients do not have access to their medical records. However, let ‘s assume that this patient has his data online. The physically-present doctor does not have a marketplace where to seek advice. He can maybe bother a friend once or twice, or even pay him. But this friend is no assurance of quality, availability or price.
Translation is an activity ideal for electronic marketplaces, because it is inherently international and can be performed 100% online. Any buyer can enter an e-marketplace and shop for an available, able, cheap translator.
However, medical knowledge does not have such a marketplace yet. This “medical knowledge marketplace” should have at least these features:
– access to a reliable online EMR (electronic medical record) for patients
– a doctor’s database, with a critical number of providers in any field. These providers do not need to travel to market their knowledge, because the transactions are essentially online.
– a companies database, ready to buy knowledge on given clinical cases, from doctors online. These companies will be validated in their contact data, and they will be required to pay any services bought thru the marketplace. Or face blacklisting.
– quality assurance service for doctors who want to validate their credentials by any necessary mean
– transaction platform, including bidding, alert mailing and auction

Other features present in current service eMarketplaces:
– forum
– contests
– tests
– blacklist of those who broke the market rules
– product offerings
– group purchases
– physical meetings

This market would be ideal for isolated places where no doctor would visit, for second medical opinion and for 3rd World doctors willing to sell their knowledge in the 1st World.
In the near future, it would be nonsensical NOT to have a Medical Knowledge Marketplace.

Working in the intersection of Medicine and Internet

I conceive the near future of medical care as a connected, distributed space where only a few persons have direct contact with the patient, and a number of consultants examine the relevant data and make recommendations. The eHealth paradigm will make medicine ultra-specialized, a bit de-personalized, fast and cheap.

The current e-business models are taking a while to enter the very conservative health field, but they will enter for good, with great impact and making big bucks for the pioneers. (us). For instance: 

– Telemarkets, where the patient demands service offers from all the possible providers;
– Auctions, where medical services/hours are sold to the best buyer:
– Social Networks, where doctors and consultants are qualified by colleagues, online, worldwide
– Expert Systems
– Advertising following the PPC and related models, using the doctor-specific channels to allow pharmaceutical ethical advertising.

Sergio 2007

A comparison of different EMR systems

From request from a client, I presented a paper at the Latin American Congress of Medical Informatics, INFOLAC, here in Buenos Aires. He produces an EMR product with some state-of-the-art features, and he wanted to introduce the subject into the med-info communitiy.

In parallel, I was looking for a product that I could use for remote consultation pacients. So, finally both lines converged and I had resources to do a quite complete research on the subject.

I was surprised to learn that, in spite of being in 2008 at full IT speed, most hospitals in Latin America and other places still keep medical records only in paper.

There is a nice opportunity to advance in this matter. I will soon publish the results of my survey on Web available EMR systems.