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22 Nov 2022

Metaverse & Healthcare of the Future

Table of Contents

Today, we are witnessing the topic of the Metaverse moving to the next level, with discussions around the topic already reaching the World Economic Forum stage. It is no surprise, as just the Metaverse market itself is predicted by the CitiGroup to hit a whopping $8 to $13 trillion as early as in 2030. It is no longer just about potential vast implementation in the gaming and entertainment industries, but about creation, governance, legislation, privacy and safety of an entire new universe. While we already covered some of these questions in one of our previous articles "The Seven Challenges of the Metaverse", today we would like to dive deeper and look into the potential implementation in one of the key industries where it could impact billions worldwide, in the Healthcare. Thus, we decided to share some insights, vision and of course some predictions of how the Metaverse could be implemented in a number of healthcare directions for the foreseeable future. In this article we are answering a couple of main questions to help unravel the potential of Metaverse future in Healthcare.

What Are the Potential Healthcare Implementations in the Metaverse?

Healthcare would be one of the directions that can benefit greatly from the Metaverse. At this point, moving the entire institution into the digital domain seems much of a dream, but functions like education, communication, promotion, training, intervention and rehabilitation are the first ones that can be carried over and digitized. When it comes to medical training, we have already seen how the pandemic pushed many educational programs to a remote setting outside of the traditional existence. This chance has made it more accessible and available remotely for both the specialist and medical students. 

The integration of XR technology has allowed these practices to remain hand-on and most importantly safe, for the real patients. We also expect the Metaverse and immersive technology to revolutionize surgery, allowing to re-create fully functional ORs (Operating Rooms) in a virtual environment, giving practitioners tools that enable planning in three dimensions or remote collaboration with other specialists around the globe. We can use the Metaverse environment to help with diagnostics, as immersive devices can both visualize complex information in an immersive set-up or even capture data like response time or eye focus through the worn XR devices.

What Technology Can Make the Healthcare Metaverse Happen?

When it comes to the healthcare sector, we need to put the emphasis on a number of technologies that will be essential for building users' trust, expanding implementation and global adaptation. First and foremost is the digital twin technology, here we are not talking about simply mimicking real-life objects and environments, but rather recreating their 1-to-1 digital replicas, identical to real-life counterparts, with the same visual quality, capabilities, functions, usability, responses and interactions. Enhanced by the real time data, digital twin technology can be used to recreate entire processes and be used to model and predict possible outcomes of entire procedures or operations. The same goes for the visual fidelity, which ought to be created having the same textures, materials, angles, light, spatial sound, as if the person is interacting with them in a real-life setting. We are not just talking about objects and environments, but also the digital twins of patients that will look, act and respond in accordance with how real patients would. 

The other essential part would be to add haptic feedback that would allow specialists to practically touch and feel both the textures, surfaces and elements of the equipment as well as the body, skin and vital signs of the patients. The emphasis would also be on the multiplayer functionality, where specialists from any locations would be able to access and interact in the healthcare Metaverse environments together and simultaneously, regardless of their physical locations. As we cannot expect to have everyone dive into using immersive XR devices straight off the bat, we ought to build hybrid solutions that allow access to any experience from multiple devices including AR, VR and MR headsets as well as the ones users today are most used to, like mobile devices, PCs and tablets. This will enable us to take remote support to a completely new level, linking specialists in the same space regardless of their physical location.

What Other Elements Will be Important for the Healthcare Metaverse?

Like with the currently existing AR, VR and MR solutions, analytics and data collection will play an essential role, as it could help track not only the specialists performance data, but mistakes that were made or moments to pay attention to for further healthcare Metaverse development. Data collection and analytics systems will play an essential role in improving the quality of education and interaction for medical specialists and care for the potential real patients. Adding a possibility to integrate a LMS (learning management system), could also contribute to the improvement of healthcare training and educational experiences, as it would advance content creation and management, tracking and reporting as well as make the experience more engaging for its users based on input data. 

Here we are also talking about the potential of adding more advanced content, and most importantly having the opportunity of moving it from 2D to 3D format. We will see the healthcare system adopting fast content creation and management. Where specialists will be able to work with 2D images that can be easily transformed into the 3D format, bringing complex projections to life in real-time. Visualizing anything from an MRI, CAT, X-Ray scan or any other visual content will not just move into 3D, but will be accessible on both immersive XR devices as well as on what we still consider as traditional, flat screens, mobile and desktop devices. 

In Conclusion

The Metaverse without doubt will be an exciting new chapter in not just the history of the internet, but in the development of medical care globally, providing countless new opportunities. At the same time, healthcare will push the Metaverse to develop uncompromisable standards for both visual fidelity, functional precision as well as data privacy and security. While we are still on the doorstep of its development, the potential is already vast and exciting to even imagine. Like with many great things, it will bring its challenges, the ones the tech community will have to unite for to overcome. Nevertheless we are up to a great start, that will flourish and bloom into the next generation of communication, interaction and hybrid existence for medical specialists and patients worldwide. 

Authors: Alex Dzyuba, Lucid Reality Labs Founder & CEO | Anna Rohi, Lucid Reality Labs Senior Marketing & Communications Manager


Can The Metaverse Drive The Metamorphosis Of Healthcare? 

The industry is already adopting elements of the Metaverse, including remote XR collaboration and interaction capabilities for different aspects of training, learning, and education. The further adaptation of interactive 3D environments and their growth in scale can help remove the physical and geographical borders between medical practitioners and patients, gradually transforming Healthcare to become more accessible. The metamorphosis will not stop just at that. We are bound to see more elements of the Metaverse appear in Healthcare, impacting its further transformation.   

Wondering How Healthcare Will Function in the Metaverse?

As the current concept of the Metaverse implies, it to be remote and decentralized, with open standards and no physical borders, making Healthcare function safely and effectively in such a setting will be a challenging task to solve. While the world is still working on a unified, comprehensive vision of the Metaverse, quite a few challenges must first be solved for a fully functional Healthcare integration to be possible. 

Article Last Edited 10 May 2023.

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