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Exploring exciting possibilities of healthcare in the metaverse

Article-Exploring exciting possibilities of healthcare in the metaverse

Shutterstock metaverse
The arrival of healthcare applications in the metaverse offers the ability to leverage more continuous data.

Imagine a decade from now, you put on your augmented reality glasses or contact lenses, and when you look in the mirror in the morning, it will show you not just how your health is in the present day but also offer a glimpse at the future. Depending on your smoking habits or diet, it will give you a personalised health score, maybe even an early check engine light and offer guidance to help optimise your health and wellness. 

But in reality, today, the healthcare model still revolves around reactive sick care, where most of the healthcare data is collected in small fragments, either from a visit to the primary care doctor or the emergency room. However, the arrival of healthcare applications in the metaverse is bringing together the ability to leverage more continuous data, for instance, through wearables. Integrating this data into the workflow of care will offer a complete picture of how patients, consumers, clinicians, health systems, and regulators can move towards a preventative model to improve healthcare around the world.

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In an interview, Daniel Kraft, MD, Founder & Chair, NextMed Health, shared: “Thanks to the advent of the metaverse, or as I like to call it, “med’verse”, we have the opportunity to reshape and reimagine the near and more distant future of health and medicine, and everything from prevention, and health span, to early diagnostics, to new forms of therapy to even public health. The metaverse could take the form of an avatar we meet with in the virtual reality (VR) world. Or it could be the music, diets or meditation that nudge us to make healthy decisions or preventative systems that can detect complex diseases at an early stage.” Excerpts:

How does the digital twin concept interconnect with the metaverse?

I like to think about the digital twin in the metaverse as a tool that will allow a patient to provide a mirror to their health data when interacting with a chatbot, clinician, nutritionist, or public health worker. Through this data, healthcare professionals will have real-time information and a deeper understanding of the patient. They can use the digital twin model to simulate and optimise healthcare journeys, just like Google Maps, which offers hyperlocal information. The digital twin component for the metaverse could, for example, look like a patient’s mother or doctor and speak to them in a voice that helps motivate them. The digital twin would know a patient’s medical history, so when they ask a question about abdominal pain, it would recommend medication and help clinical teams choose the right therapies. The digital twin model is still in its early days. But healthcare, in general, still follows the one size fits all approach, and most doctors prescribe the same drug and dose. Therefore, this emerging metaverse that meets the digital twin concept will be one model that’s always learning and can drive proactive, personalised care anywhere and provide better health outcomes.

Photo_Daniel Kraft.jpg

Daniel Kraft, MD

What are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to the adoption of the metaverse?

One of the biggest challenges is training new clinicians, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists of the future to enter this new age. There are often cultural challenges, particularly with asking physicians to change how they do things. I think of the metaverse less as a fantastical, augmented virtual extended reality component but more as a solution that can guide surgeries and enable medical education. All the data gathered from our wearables will help offer actionable insights to drive smarter, more personalised care. But how do you plug in the metaverse? How can doctors prescribe a digital therapeutic or an app? I have recently built a platform called, where we have over 2500 companies and solutions. Some are metaverse and VR related, while others are digital therapeutics you might prescribe for smoking cessation, diabetes management or mental health. Part of the metaverse fixture is the ability to find and match a lot of these new digital, virtual and augmented tools. So, the clinician and their patients can use them and integrate them into their incentives, workflow and payment models. For instance, Apple Watch health data must tie back to a doctor in some way so that they can see why a patient’s sleep has changed or if their vital signs show a problem. The role of the metaverse is to be able to help synthesise, with the help of AI and machine learning, all these new forms of data and make them useful.

Furthermore, part of the challenge is to get out of silos and not only think about the metaverse, robotics, AI or gene therapy but see what’s here now and connect the dots and the people and the ideas to catalyse that future faster. There is a famous quote, “The future is already here, just not evenly distributed”. The trick is to translate that future faster today and collaborate with innovators, technologists, hospital systems, and investors worldwide.

When do you see healthcare in the metaverse becoming mainstream?

The launch of Apple’s virtual reality glasses sometime this year will push us closer to adopting the metaverse in healthcare. It can augment the clinician to look at radiological data, guide a procedure step by step, or help patients see their behaviours and integrate physical therapy or cognitive exercises. The metaverse has a broad possibility, including how we will enter virtual worlds, interact with clinical teams, and offer hybrid care. We still need in-person care and virtual care. Still, there is a place in the middle where we will interact with our health, not just data, but information about our virtual healthcare teams and environment, to uplevel all of us to do better self-care and to better leverage data, insights and knowledge at the bedside.

This article appears in Omnia Health magazine. Read the full issue online today.

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TAGS: Metaverse
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