Photo by Michael Berdyugin
Science fiction continues to be a medium for futuristic technology revolutions with many creative inventions and technology steaming from Hollywood stories such as Star Wars, The Matrix, Blade Runner, etc. The term “metaverse” was first coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel, where he described it as “the virtual reality world that will come to be as ubiquitous and important as the Internet is today.”
Healthcare in the metaverse has the potential to be an interactive, immersive, and recreational experience tailored to every individual. It can provide new opportunities for healthcare providers to interact with patients in more intimate ways, such as walking through a three-dimensional model of the human body with patients and discussing diagnoses & treatments. This would allow providers to simulate the effect of a proposed treatment on the patient’s body before it is applied, creating a more personal and informative experience compared to what is currently possible with two-dimensional images on a screen.
Additionally, the metaverse could be an excellent place for people to socialize and interact with others dealing with similar health issues, providing a much-needed sense of community and support for people often isolated by their conditions. The metaverse has immense potential to change the way we think about healthcare, leading to a more intimate, immersive, and enlightening medical experience with a sense of community and support for those who need it the most. It is an exciting new frontier for healthcare technology to explore.
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1Per a recent study, US healthcare is estimated to spend $8.3 trillion by 2040, to adopt new and emerging health technologies. Two-thirds of this amount is expected to be spent on new-generation technology, well-being activities, and services.
If these estimates prove accurate, the future healthcare system will empower patients to monitor their health with AI-enabled digital assistants, consultation in virtual reality (VR) environments, treatment in a simulated setup, and surgeries in augmented reality (AR). These advancements may seem like science fiction today, but Healthcare in the metaverse could make them all possible.
The metaverse in healthcare remains in its infancy for now. It will take a few more decades for it to be fully integrated, but the metaverse has the potential to change everything from patient care to data management as technology advances.
Photo by Eren Li
The metaverse involves the intersection of three major technologies — artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR). Individually, these technologies are already being utilized in healthcare to change how we diagnose and treat diseases, manage data, and even train surgeons.
Current implementations include:
- After seven years of clinical trials that studied over 600 children, The food and Drug Administration (FDA)authorized doctors to prescribe iPhone and iPad games for kids with ADHD between 8–12 years old.
- Johns Hopkins neurosurgeons have performed the institution’s first augmented reality surgeries on living patients. During the first procedure on June 8, 2020, the physicians placed six screws in a patient’s spine for spinal fusion surgery to fuse three vertebrae to relieve the patient’s chronic, debilitating back pain.
- Fundamental VR, a London-based digital health company, has started using VR to help train surgeons using the ‘Teaching Space’ feature, allowing multiple users to visit a virtual classroom for interactive lessons and meetings. It was also accredited by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons to be available on standalone VR headsets such as Oculus Quest and HTC Vive Focus Plus.
While the metaverse is still in the initial stages, it is only a matter of time before healthcare in the metaverse becomes an integral piece of the healthcare ecosystem. Innovation is emerging with considerable potential for optimizing patient care and reducing challenges for healthcare IT providers.
With the capability to build the proper infrastructure, healthcare technology organizations can direct modern technology toward an immersive healthcare system and a better future for providers, patients, and caretakers alike.
Photo by Eren Li
Like any other industry, healthcare in the metaverse will encounter some challenges including data security, data interoperability, and regulations with a need for new infrastructure, rules, and procedures to allow for the adjustments. But once addressed, it could be used to address today’s healthcare issues in the most efficient and cost-effective ways.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Compliances: HIPPA is a set of standards that protect sensitive patients’ medical information (including PHI/ePHI) from being shared without their consent. And with every modern technology proliferation, HIPAA guidelines need to be updated to ensure that patient data remains protected.
As the metaverse evolves, it is important to remember that the metaverse is not one platform but many, each with its own set of rules and regulations. Healthcare organizations will need to stay on top of all the latest developments to ensure compliance.
Interoperability: In today’s healthcare ecosystem, interoperability remains one of the biggest challenges. Healthcare in the metaverse would require a separate set of software and hardware to work together, which may seem like a daunting task, however, it is necessary.
Lack of Standards: There are no defined standards for healthcare in the metaverse yet. This means that every healthcare provider will have to create their metaverse environment, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
Security and Privacy: Healthcare data is some of the most sensitive information and needs to be protected at any cost. In the metaverse, there is a risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks. Healthcare organizations will need to have security protocols to protect patients’ data.
Cost: Creating a Healthcare metaverse environment will require a significant financial investment. Healthcare organizations will need to invest in hardware, software, and staff training, which could be a barrier for smaller healthcare organizations.
There is a possibility that the metaverse in healthcare will fundamentally alter and improve the industry as we know it. Healthcare providers need to start thinking about how an immersive world like the Metaverse could be used to Healthcare’s benefit, rather than be seen as a threat. With the capacity to build the right infrastructure, Healthcare Technology Providers can direct the new technology toward a better future for providers, patients, and caretakers alike. If you are also a direct or indirect stakeholder in the healthcare industry then pay close attention to this transition, as it will allow you with great opportunity to take the best advantage of the Immersive Healthcare System.
iPatientCare delivers robust healthcare technology; their products and solutions are specially designed for new-age healthcare, which is both cost-effective and time-saving.
I am always keeping my eyes open for the latest Healthcare technology trends and Metaverse is definitely one of them.
Stay tuned for more interesting reads!
Note: This blog was originally written for iPatientCare , an Assurecare Brand.
Originally published at https://ipatientcare.com.