WHO to Classify Gaming Disorder as a Mental Health Disorder

by | Last updated Jun 27, 2023 | Published on Jan 24, 2018 | Medical Coding

Gaming Disorder
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According to a new report, the World Health Organization (WHO) is planning to add or list “gaming disorder” (essentially video game addiction) as a mental health condition in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The new revision of ICD-11 will directly come under the category of ‘disorders due to addictive behaviors or substance use,’ which include addiction to gambling and substances like drugs and alcohol. Gaming disorder has been included in the most recent ICD draft, which is set to be published in 2018. The recent move can prove to be advantageous for clinicians hoping to get reimbursed for treating this specific disorder. Healthcare entities and medical coding companies need to get prepared to follow and implement the finalized 2018 ICD-11-CM coding changing and guidelines. Coders in reliable medical coding companies will need to fully understand how to use the new code set to accurately report claims for this disorder.

The WHO’s timeline plans to present the final ICD-11 to the World Health Assembly next May. The draft specifications include the code – 6C71 – gaming disorder. This new code comes underneath “Mental, behavior, oral, and neuro-developmental” problems beneath the subcategory of “disorder” because of substance abuse or addictive behavior.

What Is Gaming Disorder?

Gaming Disorder (as defined in the draft – ICD-11) is characterized as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (digital gaming or video gaming) which may be online or offline. The gaming behavior can include the following symptoms –

  • Impaired control over gaming (for example – onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context)
  • Higher priority given to gaming (to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities)
  • Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences

The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. For accurately diagnosing this mental addiction disorder, the behavioral pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. In addition, the gaming behavior pattern and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

Classifying an activity as a mental health condition is all about context. Playing video games cannot be always labeled as a mental disorder, as there are many normal individuals who happen to engage in video games. In fact, many video games are being developed and used for health care. So, it all depends on what type of game played, how often, how long and why and where you play it. Practically, any particular activity even those seemingly good and essential, can lead to mental health disorders when you no longer can control the activity and when it directly starts interfering with your life. People who partake in this activity should be always alert about the amount of time spent on gaming activities (particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities as well as any changes to their physical, psychological or social behavior) that could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behavior.

The new ICD-11 classification is a mere reflection of how common video gaming can turn in to an addictive disorder. With the addition of “gaming disorder” as a mental health disorder in ICD-11 category, experienced medical billing and coding companies need to stay updated and equipped to assist physician practices, hospitals and other healthcare entities to apply these revisions. By providing specificity in coding tasks, medical coders can help physicians ensure billing accuracy for appropriate reimbursement.

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