From nascent growth to an upward shift
The potential of healthcare solutions in the metaverse is immense. The core objective of the metaverse is to bring people closer by creating environments that simulate reality. This notion aligns with the needs and aspirations of every healthcare provider that wants to extend care and medicine with minimal logistical blockers. The global metaverse in the healthcare market is expected to reach over $71 billion by 2030.
While the metaverse is still nascent, its capabilities are already enticing for healthcare providers. Here are some use cases that the metaverse technologies can effectively solve for patients, doctors, nurses, and hospitals.
The metaverse advantage
Accessible, affordable healthcare
Immersive telemedicine enabled by virtual reality: While telemedicine has been prevalent in healthcare for years, virtual reality can create an immersive form of patients and doctors interacting in the metaverse. Doctors can check patients' vitals, history, and symptoms by visualizing their narratives and medical history, leading to an improved consultation.
Surgeries powered by AR/VR technologies: Automated surgery is a common practice. The metaverse takes it to the next level and unlocks AR/VR-enabled precision surgery where the patient and the surgeon sit hundreds of miles away. Dr. Pedro Gouveia, a pioneer of metaverse surgery, performed breast cancer surgery in Lisbon, guided by surgeon Dr. Andrés-Luna sitting over 500 miles away in Spain. Using mixed reality Hololens goggles and 5G technology, the two surgeons stayed in constant audiovisual contact, performing this pathbreaking surgery .
Improved safety standards through a virtualized hospital and clinic: The pandemic has unearthed the limitations and risks of mass admissions in hospitals. A virtual environment can reduce the need for patients to visit hospitals for manageable discomforts. It can also be a blessing for patients who are facing disabilities or are unable to commute to hospitals and clinics.
Mixed-reality medical schools: Medical schools, knowledge centers, and libraries simulated in the metaverse can connect multiple knowledge sources across the globe and make data ready for academic purposes on-demand. Students, academicians, and healthcare providers can seamlessly refer to resources, have group-learning sessions, and attend classes and tests.
Analyzing patient health data using multi-dimensional visualizations: Through multiple data cuts and visualizations in the metaverse, doctors can overcome tedious data analysis activities and derive valuable medical insights by looking at patient data.
Visualizing treatment outcomes for a patient using digital twins: One of the popular metaverse features enables users to create a digital version that simulates both their external appearance and inner traits. Such digital twins can work in the context of healthcare too. Doctors can assess how a treatment could work on a patient by entering necessary inputs that simulate the treatment on the patient's digital twin.
The key challenges
Metaverse-enabled advanced healthcare
The applications of the metaverse technologies promise to keep the advancements of healthcare future-ready. However, there are many challenges that metaverse proponents must acknowledge.
Lack of robust data privacy laws: The data privacy laws that apply to internet users won't suffice for the metaverse where a simulated environment poses additional data risks. Strong data privacy laws would ensure patients' data is not misused or shared with a third party without their consent.
Expensive high-tech hardware that enables the metaverse: The hardware that enables the metaverse is still out of reach from most of the global population, limiting the applications of metaverse-enabled healthcare.
Data breach possibilities: Since users deeply interact with technology in the metaverse through multiple devices, the chances of user-driven data leaks increase, making them more vulnerable to hackers. A new security report predicts the first wave of cyberattacks will occur in the metaverse in the later half of 2022.
Building solutions to overcome these challenges would define how metaverse-enabled healthcare succeeds in the long run.
The applications of the metaverse technologies promise to keep the advancements of healthcare future-ready.
The way ahead
Cutting-edge, modernised and personalized healthcare
The ease with which the metaverse concept is quickly becoming a reality with practically achievable goals must spark hope for many.
During the pandemic, it was technology that helped healthcare professionals connect with their patients remotely, predict the pandemic's progression, establish guidelines and accelerate the development of vaccines.
The evolution of healthcare to become cutting-edge, modernized, and yet personalized to perfection for every patient. It can be achieved through a holistic tech ecosystem like the metaverse that facilitates connectivity, breaks silos, and encourages data protection.