Did you know that two out of five US residents used telehealth during the first year of the COVID outbreak? As a result of numerous medical advancements, the healthcare industry is continuously changing, with robot-assisted surgeries and virtual reality (VR) training becoming ever more popular.
When Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced an upcoming technology called the metaverse, experts saw huge potential for this in the healthcare industry.
What is metaverse?
Metaverse is a visual depiction of reality. It represents a combination of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality, mixed reality (MR) and artificial intelligence. It is expected that by 2030 the AR market alone in healthcare will reach US$76 billion.
By making use of the metaverse, experts believe it will be possible to address numerous healthcare issues, such as mental health, or allow patients to benefit from healthcare without facing geographical barriers.
AR is being employed by the World Health Organization to educate people regarding COVID-19, while some mental health professionals use VR to treat post-traumatic stress (PTS).
With this potential revolution in healthcare, the metaverse does however bring about certain privacy concerns. This is where blockchain technology with its cryptographic techniques can help by hiding valuable health data from strangers.
We’ve compiled a list of five healthcare areas that could show significant improvements with the help of the metaverse:
1. Surgical procedures
Today, surgeons already employ AR, VR and AI as well as minimally invasive surgery in their practices. These technologies provide a three-dimensional perspective of a patient’s body which aids in the interpretation, planning and execution of surgical procedures.
VR and AR simulations help to allow fast and safe surgical training. As there are certain issues linked with these technologies in healthcare such as computer limitations, the application of the metaverse can help to solve these.
The metaverse can serve as a platform for online treatment and improve access to therapy for disabled persons. Virtual reality exposure therapy, for instance, assists in reducing the severity of stress responses to events or memories that cause anxiety or fear whereby patients are subjected to their PTS disorder triggers in a controlled and secure virtual environment.
3. Education and training
The creation of an AR space to explore the structure of a human body in a laboratory environment would benefit medical education and training.
AR is already being taught in some medical schools and has been demonstrated to have a good impact on medicine.
This tech can be used by medical professors to assist students to solve specific problems including project completion and the creation of a learning environment for everyone. However, another decade will be required before it is widely employed in medical practices.
During the COVID-19 crisis, this technology gained much traction. Only 43% of healthcare facilities were able to offer remote therapy services before 2020. Today this figure has risen to 95%.
Medical specialists have discovered that telepresence can help to identify many minor conditions. This will almost certainly continue in the metaverse which eliminates location barriers thanks to VR.
In metaverse telecare (remote care provided using telecommunications technology, either synchronously (live video) or asynchronously (store-and-forward) can also be revolutionized with patients no longer limited to treatment in their geographical location.
Here is one of many cases when we at RightAngle assisted one of our clients, a consulting company that required assistance in regard to a telecare project. After contracting RightAngle, we managed to find the most suitable experts and arranged calls between the client and a current/former telecare provider with in-depth expertise.
5. Digital twins
A digital twin represents a virtual version of an object or process that is produced with the help of real-time data. Its goal is to offer more information about the real physical counterpart thus helping experts to make better decisions. Within the metaverse, specialists could make decisions based on the digital twin of an actual patient.
Experts believe that by the year 2025 the digital twin market will increase from US$3.8 billion (2019) to US$35.8 billion, with healthcare being one of its biggest adopters.
Digital twins, according to Jack Latus, CEO of Latus Health, an online healthcare service specializing in occupational health, will ultimately be employed as ‘test dummies’ for people, predicting a variety of outcomes ranging from how patients will recover from surgery to how we would respond to prescribed medicines.
Through a mix of technologies, the metaverse is expected to assist healthcare practitioners in a variety of ways. Currently, certain barriers need to be overcome, notably in terms of people’s opinions regarding accessing treatment online or remotely which is still considered a backup option by many.
Furthermore, the technology brings concerns about equity of access — VR headsets are expensive and since these are needed to participate in online healthcare, the industry could be regarded as contributing to inequalities in healthcare access.
However, if the new generation of digital-first healthcare offers can successfully demonstrate that its innovation will result in lower costs and better results, these challenges are likely to be overcome over time.
Have in mind a metaverse business idea and don’t know where to start or gain valuable info? At RightAngle we can help you get in touch with the right people.