Healthcare investment in the metaverse and AI is growing, with companies like Roblox, Insilico Medicine, Medici, Practo, HaptX and others leading the way. Grand View Research reports the global virtual and augmented reality in healthcare market size was valued at $1.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $9.2 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 25.3 per cent during the forecast period.
The Future Health Summit at the Museum of the Future in Dubai was ground zero today for revolutionary discussions between global healthcare innovators and practitioners, government and private sector leaders on the influence of the metaverse, artificial intelligence (AI), Telepresence and the future of remote care.
Dr Timothy F. Witham, The Johns Hopkins Bayview Spine Program, and Dr. Daniel Kraft, Founder & Chair of NextMed Health, highlighted the rapid evolution of the metaverse and its impact on healthtech. The convergence of current technologies such as big data, machine learning, wearables, virtual reality and others are reshaping the medical world. The next generation of medicine includes Digital Twinning, a virtual patient model, which takes a patient’s scanned biological data and forms a database creating models we can use virtually to make predictions on how certain procedures or drug interventions might work; Telepresence, the transporting of health expertise to a remote location. For example, the ability to take a patient pre-operation into a virtual OR, have them interact with avatars including the surgical team and nursing staff, and even see a virtual rendition of their surgery, helping reduce anxiety before a major procedure; advanced Augmented Reality interventions, where precision scientific imagery and data is overlaid onto a patient’s body during critical surgeries, augmenting the surgeon’s ability to make decisions on the fly; and Metaverse Enabled Surgery, where virtual imagery can be projected directly onto a surgeon’s retina during surgery using highly advanced contact lenses. The era of haptic feedback for surgeons using virtual reality gloves in the metaverse was also of keen interest, as companies bring physical touch to virtual world engagement helping doctors examine patients who are in their homes from their clinics.
The ability of the metaverse to reshape the world of healthcare is no longer debatable, Drs. Witham and Kraft assert. “The benefits are myriad, including improved access to healthcare no matter the geographic location, enhanced patient experiences using immersive tech, efficient use of doctors’ and patients’ time and costs, as well as the training opportunities available for the next generation of medical practitioners. What matters is how we prepare for them together.”