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Healthcare metaverse: Merging technology with medicine

Article-Healthcare metaverse: Merging technology with medicine

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The Future Health Summit highlights the latest business opportunities in the metaverse.

Technology is significantly advancing the way we diagnose and treat patients. In recent times, telehealth and in-home healthcare increasingly became integrated into our daily lives, which further gave birth to the metaverse in healthcare.

Metaverse is effectively the next version of the internet — one that will take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and connectivity to create online environments that are more immersive, experiential and interactive than what we have today.

In the healthcare industry, the metaverse is also rapidly gaining traction. AI, AR, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality, quantum computing, and robotics are all expected to change healthcare delivery and enhance patient outcomes. The metaverse involves the convergence of major technology trends that have the potential to impact healthcare individually.

Together, they could create entirely new channels for delivering care that have the potential to lower costs and vastly improve patient outcomes. These three trends are telepresence (allowing people to be together virtually, even while we’re apart physically), digital twinning, and blockchain.

It may sound like science fiction today, but it is the next step in the way we deliver healthcare, say experts. It was not too long ago that having a doctor visit your home was not unusual. That is going to happen again, except this time technology is being used as an enabler.

Healthcare leaders need to understand how these innovations can address the pain points for both customers and employees because the metaverse is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. According to a report titled ‘Healthcare in the Metaverse’ from Market Research Future, the healthcare metaverse market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 48.3 per cent until 2030, with the industry’s value expected to top US$5.37 billion.

In recent years, augmented reality and virtual reality technologies have advanced tremendously, and they are now frequently employed in medical training, teaching modules, and surgical procedures to perform complex surgeries with extreme precision. These components are also employed in medical devices and equipment software and hardware to improve their performance.

In an earlier interview with Omnia Health Insights in 2022, Aravind Upadhyaya, Founder and CEO of 8chilli said that health systems and educational institutions that do not embrace this advanced technology for better patient care and training needs will lose the battle in the next eight years.

He also said: “I see an acceleration in the adoption of digital health technologies, especially wearables followed by AR/VR and therapeutics. In the long-term, Web 3.0, or the metaverse as we now call it, will play a key role in the healthcare ecosystem as countries invest more time in the metaverse. Healthcare is moving towards value-based care and VR delivers the superior outcomes required to achieve value-based care.”

This year’s Arab Health, with its newly launched Intelligent Health Pavilion, outlined the most innovative and sustainable healthcare technologies through live demonstrations at the Future Health Summit held in the Museum of the Future.

“The healthcare industry has witnessed incredible changes in recent years, with technology and innovation the driving force behind how the industry is elevating patient care,” said Ross Williams, Exhibition Director for Informa Markets.

The Intelligent Health Pavilion will feature three demonstration rooms showcasing several new technologies through live demonstrations including a digital Intensive Care Unit (ICU), an intelligent operating room, and an emergency room.

“The summit is dedicated to trailblazers. From AI and robotics to the role of the metaverse, the healthcare industry is continuously evolving because of cutting-edge technology combined with innovative leaders committed to improving patient outcomes,” Williams said.

He added: “The metaverse is expected to disrupt healthcare and open new channels of treatment while lowering costs. The predicted growth within this market is huge, and we have only explored the tip of the iceberg.”

The Future Health Summit provided an invaluable look at how everyone in the healthcare industry can maximise what it offers.

Earlier this year, UAE healthcare company Thumbay Group announced its own intentions to build a virtual hospital where doctors and patients can meet as avatars for remote consultations. Thumbay Group and the Gulf Medical University are also working together to incorporate Virtual Reality (VR) into medical training.

While metaverse skeptics might argue that such initiatives are little more than telehealth with 3D glasses, another project unveiled at the GITEX 2022 conference in the Dubai World Trade Centre is proving that remote medical treatment can go beyond consultations to treatment.

Discover more about managing healthcare data in the metaverse era in our latest eBook

This article appears in the latest issue of Omnia Health Magazine. Read the full issue online today.

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