A-Beginner’s-Guide-to-Metaverse In Healthcare

A Beginner's Guide to Metaverse In Healthcare

Akshay Gera

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Introduction:

Metaverse is the augmented virtual world derived from the convergence of virtual and physical space. Users can interact within the augmented world, meet virtually, and immerse themselves in performing virtual activities that give real experiences. It is said to be the internet’s next frontier. 

In his novel Snow Crash, the term Metaverse was introduced in 1992 by sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson. The novel described a 3-D virtual space as part of a dystopian narrative in which humans chose to live in the virtual world rather than the real one, having virtual currencies and virtual cities. It summed up the metaverse concept, a highly immersive and shared virtual world where people gather to play games, socialize and work.

Metaverse became the new buzzword after the announcement by the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, who will develop Metaverse for users and players along with his company, Meta. It would include everything from virtual social and gaming platforms to non-fungible tokens. It would be a 3-D virtual reality where you can access a range of services like virtual concerts, exhibitions, gaming sessions, online shopping, entertainment, and much more. You can try out and experience the products and do transactions using blockchain technology. Blockchain technology provides a decentralized database to store data safely because of its block-like structures, typically known as ‘digital ledgers’. These blocks contain a unique and private key that no one can access. Its encryption algorithm ensures the reliability and immutability of the data stored on the blockchain.  

Various brands and marketing agencies use it in digital and social media marketing strategies to gain engagement and reach. Metaverse is not restricted to playing games and VR glasses; it is much beyond that. It is an immersive world where people can start and run businesses, buy or sell real estate, conduct live concerts, carry over transactions using virtual currencies, etc.

Metaverse in Healthcare can be a technological game-changer that would redefine the modern healthcare system and its working. It would provide you with lucrative opportunities in the healthcare line with the convergence of three major technological trends, i.e., artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR), along with the internet of medical devices, web 3.0, intelligent cloud, edge and quantum computing, etc. which have the potential to impact and provide new directions to healthcare individually.

High Accuracy and Resolution

The future of healthcare will revolve around ‘virtual hospitals’ that would comprise the virtual reality hospital environment, accessed through a headset, where treatments would be first focused on counseling and physiotherapy services.  You would also get better access to mental healthcare, virtual fitness and wellness, and therapeutic sessions. Likewise, It would enhance patient communication and the detection of diseases. 

Hindrances in the Healthcare Sector

Various shortcomings in the healthcare sector get highlighted whenever there is an emergency or a pandemic surge. Due to the traditional model of the healthcare system, vulnerable and old-age groups are often left unnoticed and affected. Old-age people often face various hospital problems, such as the unavailability of wheelchairs, lifts, stretchers, doctors, and much more. Some other concerns related to healthcare include:

Accessible Point of Care

Before Covid, healthcare meant physical interaction between the patients and the doctors. This changed slightly post covid. Most people chose teleconsultations and home-based healthcare over potentially contracting covid at dedicated healthcare institutions. The introduction of the Metaverse in healthcare might potentially revolutionize this forever. It would give you a 3-D view of a patient’s body and help you plan and perform surgeries and treatments easily.

Medical Training and Surgery

The virtual world would help in facilitating online training programs for the students. All the learners would get equal opportunities to learn despite their distance by letting everyone be virtually present at an emergency scene.

Due to a lack of resources, it has been difficult for students to bear the costs of healthcare education and practice. When the Metaverse in healthcare enters the picture, it will assist you in analyzing and performing procedures and simulation training utilizing augmented reality solutions while reducing expenses and upkeep. It would incorporate the immersive features of web technology to develop a digital approach to social learning.

Fostering Advanced Health Technology

With healthcare comes the challenges of advanced technologies such as appointment management systems, patient administration systems, etc., which pose a significant hindrance in their growth. Blockchain technology in the Metaverse allows for decentralized communities and takes care of patients’ precious health data. The metaverse in healthcare devices such as head-mounted displays, handheld devices, vision-based and mobile device-based wearables, etc., ensure efficient diagnosis and visualization.

Therapeutic Applications

PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, affects millions of people every year, and this number has eventually increased after the Covid-19 surge. With Metaverse in healthcare, you can provide online therapy sessions to eliminate cognitive avoidance with your guidance. This technique is available in various Veterans Administration hospitals and has produced meaningful results. 

 According to a report, the World Health Organization uses augmented reality (AR) to train Covid-19 first responders via smartphones. In contrast, psychiatrists use virtual reality (VR) technology to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans and officers.

Physiotherapy and Remedial Exercises

Physiotherapy plays a significant role for people suffering from disabilities and dysfunctions. Visiting their physiotherapists becomes a challenge for these patients due to limited mobility and complex health issues. With the advent of the metaverse in healthcare, it would be possible to continue with your physiotherapy session in the comfort of your home. Patients need to use a virtual reality headset and work out with the help of a virtual avatar to maintain their fitness routine. Patients would also have access to a virtual therapist.

High Accuracy and Resolution

Metaverse in healthcare would provide 3D forms of MRI, CT scan, and X-ray to provide a holistic view of body parts and help perform surgical procedures. Its cutting-edge technology would enable long-term benefits in visualizing treatment modalities and pre-planned surgeries. Metaverse would provide high-class resolution and accuracy in determining fractures and dislocations, pneumonia, breast cancer, and many diseases. Medical practitioners would be able to solve surgical case studies remotely, eliminating the need to go to clinics and hospitals.

In a nutshell

The introduction of the metaverse in healthcare would take time, and innovators have to ensure the safety of patient data and information in the metaverse. The metaverse’s potential is astounding since it combines virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AR) technologies to function in virtual spaces. From therapeutic usages, improved surgical precision to social distancing accommodations, all signs point to widespread adoption of the metaverse as a transformation in healthcare.

The future of healthcare is metaverse-oriented. We never imagined that we would be able to teach robots to operate on people, but that has become a reality in the last decade. With metaverse, you can now do brain scanning and anatomy using 3-D models. In the metaverse, the future seems promising and holds excellent prospects. We can expect a boom in the metaverse in healthcare, changing the landscape of healthcare forever. 

You may get started with Metaverse by developing your virtual avatar and giving virtual experiences to your patients. You can create a new business model that incorporates the Metaverse in the future. You can get equipped with Metaverse-compatible software and hardware devices for better experiences.

Vaibhav Mohan

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