Healthy Tech: Medical video games and how phones make us healthy

In this week's Healthy Tech: the U.S. Olympic Committee decides to start using electronic medical records for athletes during the 2012 London Games, doctors get a video game to better interface with troublesome patients and a new study says that mobile devices do improve your overall health and wellness.

1. U.S. Olympic Committee Using Electronic Medical Records for Athletes

For the first time ever, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) is utilizing an electronic medical record (EMR) for managing athlete care during the Olympic games. They'll use GE's Centricity Practice Solution to manage data on more than 700 athletes.

Previously, USOC had to ship, store and sort pallets of paper records for each of the Games. Now, physicians will be able to review the medical records of the athletes on tablets. It wasn't mentioned, but this probably is saving USOC a fortune in shipping costs, too.

Electronic records have struggled to catch on with most consumers; Google Health, for instance, was retired at the beginning of this year and data will only be available for download through Jan. 1, 2013.

Clearly the health and well-being of athletes is incredibly important, as well as the desire for privacy. Electronic records can be a bit easier to secure than tons and tons of papers sent via shipping containers.

Via Examiner

2. Identifying Prescription Painkillers Abuse Using Video Games

Video games are increasingly going beyond their original intent of entertaining consumers to being used to help victims get over traumatic experiences — such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Now, there's a new game focused on the healer, not the one in pain. Based on research by Dr. Michael F. Fleming at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the game is designed to train doctors to identify deceptive behavior by people looking to abuse prescription painkillers. He interviewed more than 1,000 patients for his research in developing the game.

Doctors interact with an actor whose responses and behaviors are generated entirely in-game. About 2,000 statements are available in the game with 1,500 questions and responses the doctor can choose from — about five to seven are available in each scenario.

The game teaches doctors to look for certain warning signs like family problems, breaking eye contact, finger-tapping, etc. It's currently in its final phase of testing and is aimed at primary care and family doctors who feel uncomfortable accusing or evaluating patients in these types of scenarios.

According to the CDC, "prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States," necessitating the need for doctors to approach new ways to attack the problem.

The Web-based game will be available online soon for a fee to medical schools and health care providers.

Via The New York Times

3. Mobile Technology Can Help Your Overall Health and Wellness

Go into the iTunes App Store or Google Play and you'll quickly see apps that can track you when you go for a run, help you note down how many calories you're ingesting at each meal and more. Turns out — those mobile apps actually do boost healthy eating. (At least according to a new study.)

The study, supported in part by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institution of the National Institutes of Health, found that "a combination of mobile technology and remote coaching" can encourage healthier eating and more physical activity amongst consumers.

The study looked at more than 200 overweight and obese adults who had a diet high in saturated fat and low in fruits and veggies; they also did very little physical activity. Each one was given a mobile device and trained on how to enter their activities and eating patterns into the device on a daily basis.

The study found when tracking more — and yes, with a financial incentive — the group's average of daily servings of fruits and vegetables increased, and their rate of physical activity went up as well.

While the study didn't list what apps or programs the participants used on their devices, here are some starters, and none of these require an additional physical gadget for you to purchase:

Via Health24

About Healthy Tech

This is the Healthy Tech Weekly, where guest columnist Alan Danzis reports on choice healthy technology news stories. Each week you'll discover new fitness gadgets, apps and going-ons, as well as what's around the corner, with medical innovations that will one day change the way you monitor and impact your overall health and well-being.

This feature is interactive: if you have questions for Alan, write us at Feel free to include a personal website or Twitter URL where we can find you at — if we use your question we'll include your link. Please write "Healthy Tech" in your subject line.

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook