Industrial Engineering

Metaverse : Will the Future of Health Industry Be In It?

Metaverse : Will the Future of Health Industry Be In It?
By Muhammad Zharif

In this era of technology that developed rapidly. Metaverse has come to the surface when CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg or Satya Nadella talk about it, the metaverse is the future of the internet. Like other developed technology like the internet and Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) that have been used continuously in the health industry, metaverse can also be a new breakthrough to bring benefits in health industry.

What Does Metaverse Mean

Mentally replace the phrase “the metaverse” in a sentence with “cyberspace.” Ninety percent of the time, the meaning won’t substantially change. That’s because the term doesn’t really refer to any one specific type of technology, but rather a broad shift in how we interact with technology. And it’s entirely possible that the term itself will eventually become just as antiquated, even as the specific technology it once described becomes commonplace.

Broadly speaking, the technologies that make up the metaverse can include virtual reality— characterized by persistent virtual worlds that continue to exist even when you’re not playing—as well as augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds.

It also translates to a digital economy, where users can create, buy, and sell goods. And, in the more idealistic visions of the metaverse, it’s interoperable, allowing you to take virtual items like clothes or cars from one platform to another. In the real world, you can buy a shirt from the mall and then wear it to a movie theater. Right now, most platforms have virtual identities, avatars, and inventories that are tied to just one platform, but a metaverse might allow you to create a persona that you can take everywhere as easily as you can copy your profile picture from one social network to another.

By those means about the metaverse, it is possible for health industry’s worker like doctor or other component in health industry meet by using their avatar and give the sense of physically present in the actual room, even if it’s in the different space, the cyber or virtual space. Metaverse can also be a space for producers and consumers in health industry make an exchange or trade.

How VR and AR are Infiltrating Health Industry

Before we look at the possibility of metaverse in health industry, we can look at the new and disruptive technologies based on AR and VR that have emerged to improve medical education and training as well as processes and procedures.

  1. Medical learning and training

VR is used in the training of doctors and medical staff to take learners within the human body, providing a 360° view of ailments or replicating real-world procedures. Medical schools are also beginning to incorporate AR into the curriculum to provide students with valuable opportunities for hands-on learning. AR programs are used to simulate patient and surgical encounters, allowing medical students to visualise and practice new techniques. Further still, immersive experiences could be recreated from real surgeries where students will sense and feel the replayed real surgery as if they were the surgeon themselves.

It is not inconceivable that the metaverse could also become the first training ground for the next generation of surgical robots where via Artificial Intelligence, surgical robots would learn how to operate surgeries on humans.

  1. Surgical procedures and pre/post-surgery assessments

Building on the existing use of surgical robots, more complicated surgeries are set to make increasing use of AR. Potential applications range from the removal of cancerous tumors to performing complicated spinal surgery. These developments will further enhance surgical precision and flexibility for complex procedures. Already AR is providing surgical staff with new ways of accessing information that is more compatible with surgical workflows and the sterile field of the operating room, for example real- time guidance is provided in the surgeon’s field of view of the surgical site through integration with surgical navigation systems and fusion of data from multiple imaging sources. Pre-surgery and post- surgery assessments can also benefit from the use of AR to optimise surgical outcomes with more personalised intervention rooted in data analytics.

  1. Wellness, fitness and quality of life

Gamification – the use of game mechanics in non-game environments – offers new ways to connect healthcare providers and patients. Its use in healthcare scenarios is largely restricted to wellness and fitness apps at present, for instance AR is used to deliver smarter workouts with guidance from virtual instructors.

It’s also been shown that VR can help improve quality of life for people with dementia. One study equipped patients with a VR headset to ‘visit’ one of five virtual environments, including a cathedral and a sandy beach. After 16 monitored sessions, researchers found the patients were better able to retrieve old memories, which improved mood and provided positive mental stimulation.

Will the future of health Industry be in the metaverse?

Right now, metaverse is still a new thing but has been used by some people for their work, recreation, and trade. But will it be in the future of health industry?

First thing to know, solutions involving VR and AR are already improving patient experiences and outcomes. Even simple procedures such as intravenous injections and blood draws can benefit from technologies like that from Accuvein which projects a map of a patient’s veins onto the skin.

More recently, Medtronic acquired the company Digital Surgery and Zimmer Biomet announced OptiVuTM Mixed Reality which leverages the Microsoft HoloLens to merge real and virtual worlds. The investments being made by these large medtech companies, combined with a growing number of startups developing AR and VR solutions, illustrates the way the surgical environment may change in the coming years. Another example is Veyond Metaverse which brings global healthcare professionals together for simultaneous education, training and planning as well as collaborative medical procedures. According to the company website, it uses advanced cloud and real-time communication technology to “empower clinicians to practice their skills with the utmost precision to ensure everyone receives the best healthcare delivery anytime and anywhere.”

Whether this will result in healthcare joining the metaverse remains to be seen. However, anyone who has used a digital avatar at a work meeting or virtual event has already had a taste of what the future might hold. And we’re already seeing the creation of metaverse platforms geared towards the healthcare space.

While the metaverse is still in its infancy, it holds tremendous potential for the transformation and improvement of healthcare. It will be fascinating to watch the situation unfold.