Exploring the Role of the Metaverse in the Future of Telemedicine

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Exploring the Role of the Metaverse in the Future of Telemedicine

Advanced Technologies & Blog

Could the Metaverse be the future of healthcare? What role does it play in telemedicine? If you’re new to this concept, then the article below could be an eye-opener for you. I want to dive deeper into this new concept of “Metaverse” and reveal to you what I believe will be the future of this huge trend in telemedicine. I’ll also showcase some of the ideas we integrated into our Regina Maria telehealth project and try to see how they would fit into a future revolving around Metaverse.

Short intro about Telemedicine 

Telemedicine has skyrocketed in the past couple of years, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic and since movement restrictions were put into place. According to research by Accenture, the number of healthcare facilities delivering remote therapy services rose from 43% before the pandemic to a whopping 95% post-pandemic. 

Now that Metaverse has come into play, that number will expand even more, and a growing number of customers worldwide will begin to leverage this technology to receive professional care. With the increase in tech advancements, namely Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, and Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR), the demand and supply chain have both broadened the zone of choices for modern patients, changing the patterns of consumer behavior.

The medical sector, which has been progressive for many decades now, is ready to embrace this new Metaverse concept.

The Concept of Metaverse Explained

There is no doubt that the Metaverse is quite a hot topic today. This digitally-shared universe promoted by Facebook, actually Meta, has the potential to unite humankind and bring in a whole new level of services, including telehealth. It also has the potential to improve all range of aspects of healthcare, from mental health and virtual healthcare to even complex surgical procedures.

The Metaverse is a Web 3.0 technology that leverages AI, VR, and AR, and along with the Internet of Things (IoT) is already used to enable front-line pandemic staff to work better and relieve post-traumatic stress symptoms. With the Metaverse, the traditional telemedicine services can be expanded, allowing healthcare providers to easily examine patients in a safe virtual environment and successfully diagnose and treat certain conditions.

Benefits of Metaverse for Telemedicine 

First off, with the convergence of new core technologies into the Metaverse, such as blockchain, digital twins, convergence, and virtual hospitals, clinicians will be empowered to offer more integrated treatment packages and programs. Second, using AR and VR technologies enable healthcare providers to enhance patient experiences and outcomes. For example, Accuvein, a modern technology, allows healthcare providers to easily see the veins of patients, leveraging AR.

Another benefit of Metaverse for telemedicine is that this new trend will facilitate collaboration among healthcare professionals. The ability to immediately share information between healthcare professionals will allow for a quicker pinpointing of the causes of the illness. At this point, we also need to highlight the fact that the Metaverse will most likely offer new opportunities to students and trainees, who will be able to examine the human body in a safe, virtual reality educational environment.

Since surgeons are already using VR, AR, and AI technology to perform minimally-invasive surgeries, the Metaverse only opens up new frontiers in this area. Using these immersive technologies, surgeons will be able to get a complete 360-degree view of a patient’s body, so that they can better perform complex procedures.

The Metaverse undoubtedly has the potential to revolutionize mental healthcare, enabling physicians to use immersive technologies to treat a wide range of conditions, such as:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Delusions
  • PTS
  • Hallucinations
  • Eating disorders

The Future of Metaverse in Healthcare

I want to look at some trends that will define healthcare in the Metaverse in the years to come.

1. Digital twins: a digital twin represents a virtual model or simulation of a process, system, or object, that is being generated using real-world data. In the case of the Metaverse, the digital twin could represent the patient himself, also known as the “test dummy”. Doctors and specialists will be able to use this technology to predict everything, from the reactions of the patient to specific medicine to ways of recovering from the surgery.

2. Blockchain technology: many experts suggest that blockchain technology will play a key role in the Metaverse concept, enabling decentralized communities to exist and work together. In healthcare, blockchain can be used to secure highly valuable patient data

3. Convergence: the convergence of multiple technologies into the Metaverse could mean that healthcare professionals will be able to perform joined-up treatment packages and treatment programs

4. Virtual hospitals: virtual hospital reality environments will become the norm, enabling doctors to get a complete 360-view of a patient’s healthcare-related issues.

As we discussed earlier, since the pandemic period, telemedicine reached a high adoption rate among patients. The biggest advantage of having an online consultation service is that each person can reach the best doctor for their needs. The relationship between patients and doctors is as important as the treatment itself and Regina Maria facilitated this to become possible. The development of this solution reached a mature state, and now, patients can enjoy a simple service, with a major impact on their health.

We can imagine the integration of this product inside the metaverse by “cloning” the interlocutors. Imagine that as a patient, you have a strange ache on your body and you don’t know where to start the investigations. Reaching a metaverse virtual clinic, you can ask someone with medical expertise, inquiring what the best specialty to continue the investigations is. Once we reach the right person, it’s easier to open up to the other person and develop a strong patient-doctor relationship without any borders (such as the physical distance between the interlocutors). 

We know the pressure of finding out that surgery should take place to “restore” health to its initial state. It is a difficult time that can go more easily with pre-surgery therapy, held by the clinic itself. It’s important to understand that we should embrace the evolution of telemedicine, in order to prevent and combat the challenges.

Conclusion

To conclude, the Metaverse is definitely here to stay. As technological advancements will become mainstream, this new industry powered by Web 3.0 will make it easier for patients to receive medical care when remote, while also facilitating better collaboration among healthcare professionals and improving their capabilities.

Photo credit: kroshka__nastya8k on Freepik

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