29 November 2023
Many people have expressed their excitement about the Metaverse and its potential to change the face of games, pleasure, networking, employment, as well as business. Moreover, its potential influence on the healthcare industry has received less attention, despite the fact that it is another sector where its impact might be revolutionary.
If you're still perplexed, let's start with a definition of the Metaverse. Unfortunately, nobody is actually sure right now, so it's fair to assume there is also a considerable level of uncertainty. What is largely agreed upon is that it is the next generation of the internet and will use technologies like AI, AR, VR, and ever-increasing connection which is 5G networks, as an instance, to build online experiences that are more immersive, experiential, and interactive than those we have now.
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The advent of the Metaverse marks the coming together of three technology movements that may have separate but interrelated effects on the medical industry. When combined, however, they may provide brand new avenues for providing treatment, which in turn might significantly reduce expenditures as well as enhance results for patients. The first is telepresence, which facilitates online group interaction although individuals are geographically separated. The second and third are digital twinning and the blockchain and its ability to let us generate a distributed while online.
Next, let us just begin by looking at each of them individually:
In the medical field, this is often referred to as "telemedicine" or we can term it as "telehealth". During the CoVD19 epidemic, this became quite famous. Only 43% of healthcare institutions have had the capacity to give remote therapy to patients before 2020. Currently, 95% is the current percentage. Several mild diseases which comprise the overwhelming majority of physicians' as well as nurses' caseloads may be more swiftly and effectively diagnosed over the phone or through video conference since they do not need a physical examination or can be carried out visually. In the long run, this will still be true of the Metaverse. VR, meanwhile, offers up a whole new realm of possibility since it is a critical technology that permits the next-level immersion that partially qualifies a platform or application as part of the Metaverse. Those who have experienced virtual reality with a headset knows that the feeling of "being there" is dramatically enhanced compared to other types of digital realities.
2. Digital Twins
To get insight into its physical counterpart, researchers create digital twins—virtual models or simulations of physical things, processes, or whole systems utilizing data collected in the actual world. The patient's own digital double might represent them in the Metaverse. CEO of Latus Health, a virtual medical service focusing on industrial hygiene, Jack Latus, thinks digital twins would become "test dummies" for people, allowing us to forecast anything from how we'll recover from surgery to how we will respond to certain drugs. Our growing capacity to analyze and interpret individual genomes is what will bring this about. We would be able to fast-forward; so, when we get older this twin is about 10 years, depending on such treatments we're performing, how does that affect the twin?" Almost like a crystal ball, we can now see that this is the result we will receive in 10 years if we continue with the current procedure.
3. Blockchain Technology
Blockchains, commonly recognized as the innovation behind cryptos such as Bitcoin, are merely decentralized, encrypted records which provide the safe storage as well as movement of data without the possibility of tampering on either side of the transaction. These are often regarded as fundamental to the notion of the "Metaverse" since they provide a record of digital "ownership" of surroundings or even items in the digital realm and enable decentralized communities managed democratically through smart contracts. Their biggest apparent use is in the administration and protection of our priceless health records. Currently, data is often exchanged across numerous companies in a method that is wasteful and opaque to the data's owners. Because of the prevalence of central server storage for health records, our personal information is vulnerable to theft or the estimated value of a single health record on the dark web is $70 to $100. Information also means that it may be difficult and time-consuming to access, even for those with a genuine need to do so just like an expert treating us. It's cumbersome and time-consuming; you have to write to your primary care physician (PCP) and ask for permission to view your medical data; you have to sign a form; you may not get your documents for up to 28 days; and you have to send them on. With new technological advances, it's absurd. It can't be hacked and you're able to authorize any doctor in the globe to look at your information with the push of a button.
While these fundamental technologies converge in the virtual world or "Metaverse", healthcare providers would be freed from the silos that now limit patient care to give more comprehensive treatment plans. If doctors can instantly share data with one another, they'd be better equipped to determine the root of patients' health problems. By keeping tabs on a patient's movements in the Metaverse, information like adherence may be recorded and used to better inform diagnosis and treatment.
6. Virtual Hospitals
Latus also spoke about the "virtual hospital" as a key aspect of his vision for the future of healthcare. Latus Healthcare is working on a similar initiative, and they want to launch the service sometime in the next year or so. Therapies would initially concentrate on counseling and physiotherapy services and take place in a virtual reality medical setting accessible through a headset.
Disclaimer: The author’s thoughts and comments are solely for educational reasons and informative purposes only. They do not represent financial, investment, or other advice.