Metaverse and Telemedicine: Creating a Seamless Virtual Healthcare Experience

by September 17, 2023 0 comments

The Metaverse is the next phase of the internet, bridging the digital and physical realms for work, play, socialization, and healthcare. It leverages technologies like blockchain, IoT, and digital twins to unlock its full potential.

The future of healthcare systems is uncertain due to the increasing costs of healthcare, infrastructure, an aging population, and a shortage of healthcare personnel. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for solutions to manage patients outside hospitals, and it is crucial to establish models that relocate healthcare to the patient’s living room. Telemedicine and telehealth technologies have made it possible to communicate with doctors remotely, and their use has increased significantly in recent years. Accenture research shows that the number of healthcare facilities delivering remote therapy services increased from 43% to 95% after the pandemic began.

With the advent of the Metaverse, this number is likely to expand further, and an increasing number of customers worldwide will use this technology to receive professional care. The advancements in technology, such as Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, have broadened the zone of choices for modern patients, changing the patterns of consumer behavior.

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

What is Metaverse?

The Metaverse can be thought of as the next iteration of the internet, enabling a seamless convergence of physical and virtual communities for people to work, play, transact or socialize. It serves as a catalyst for technologies like Blockchain, IoT, and digital twins to reach their full potential.

The Metaverse has the potential to revolutionize healthcare in numerous ways. It enables seamless collaboration for personnel across the industry and geography to share knowledge and work together. With the help of robots and augmented reality technology, healthcare specialists worldwide can assist in key surgeries, as demonstrated by neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins who performed the institution’s first augmented reality surgeries in living patients.

As the Metaverse blurs the lines between the digital and physical worlds, it will create more immersive, engaged, and lifelike experiences for all stakeholders involved in the healthcare value chain.

Role of Metaverse in the Realm of Telemedicine

The Metaverse can play various roles in the realm of telemedicine. Firstly, the convergence of new core technologies like blockchain, digital twins, convergence, and virtual hospitals into the Metaverse will empower clinicians to offer more integrated treatment packages and programs. Secondly, using AR and VR technologies will enhance patient experiences and outcomes.

Another benefit of the Metaverse for telemedicine is that it will facilitate collaboration among healthcare professionals. The ability to share information between healthcare professionals immediately will enable quicker pinpointing of the causes of illnesses. Moreover, the Metaverse will offer new opportunities to students and trainees to examine the human body in a safe, virtual reality educational environment.

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

Additionally, Blockchain which is an essential technology component of the Metaverse, can easily addressthe concerns about the sensitivity of patient data. Every aspect of a business is prone to disruption or getting disrupted, and healthcare is no different. The Metaverse has the potential for disruptive transformation, especially in tertiary healthcare. The next logical step for telemedicine is transitioning to the Metaverse for a more life-like experience that conveys a greater sense of “being there” compared to conventional video conferencing platforms.

The Metaverse has the potential to revolutionize mental healthcare by enabling physicians to use immersive technologies to treat a wide range of conditions, including anxiety disorders, delusions, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hallucinations, and eating disorders.

Other Advantages of Metaverse in Patient Care and Healthcare

Medical Training

Virtual Reality (VR) is increasingly being recognized as a valuable tool in medical training, and its integration into the Metaverse opens up new possibilities. The immersive nature of VR technology provides an ideal platform for medical trainees to practice procedures and learn complex medical concepts.

Metaverse and Telemedicine Creating a seamless virtual healthcare experience
Manisha Sharma | PCQuest Metaverse and Telemedicine Creating a seamless virtual healthcare experience

One area where VR is already being used is simulation training. Trainees can observe a surgeon’s procedure up close, and with the addition of tactile haptic controls, they can even experience the feeling of the instruments and the patient’s tissues. This provides a safe and controlled environment for trainees to practice and refine their skills.

Another way VR can be used in medical training is through the verification of exams. Video recordings of practice procedures can be used to verify the trainee’s competency, allowing for objective evaluation of their performance.

Surgical Procedures

Surgeons can use the metaverse and virtual reality to simulate and visualize surgical procedures. A virtual reality tool was adopted by George Washington University for neurosurgery, enabling surgeons to examine a patient’s brain and body before the operation.

This technology can be highly beneficial for conducting realistic simulations in medical training, addressing issues such as the unavailability of in-person training labs, and reducing costs for travel, equipment, and conferences while providing an immersive hands-on learning experience.

It can also help reduce surgery time by enabling surgeons to plan out their approach before the procedure. The use of force-feedback mechanisms can further reduce associated risks.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the metaverse holds promise as an immersive technology that can improve patient care in the healthcare industry. However, it is important to be aware of the challenges that may arise as this technology evolves. By anticipating potential issues and addressing them proactively, healthcare professionals can ensure that the metaverse is used to its full potential for the benefit of patients.

Manisha Sharma | PCQuest Mr. VIKRAM THAPLOO

Author: Vikram Thaploo, CEO-Telehealth, Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Limited

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