Medical Metaverse: tomorrow’s technology?
The concept of Metaverse has been making waves for several years now. Popularized by Mark Zuckerberg when he decided to rename his company Meta, it is now a hot topic of discussion. Still a vague concept for the public, it combines video games, futuristic experimentation, and social networking. But today, it’s also inviting itself into a cutting-edge field that’s constantly evolving: the medical field.
It’s a contraction of Meta (ancient Greek for “going forward”) and verse (contraction of “universe”). A cohabitation of augmented physical reality and 100% digitalized space, this new world shakes off its constraints. How can we link this new territory with medical progress and the democratization of healthcare?
A revolution in healthcare?
The healthcare sector is one of the most advanced in our society. On every continent, initiatives are springing up to imagine the medicine of tomorrow and the technologies that will go with it. The market is being structured and developed around both start-ups and major groups.
In 2022, CVS Health, a group of pharmacies, is positioning itself as the first private company with the right to market prescription drugs and therapeutic care in the metaverse. On the other hand, the 8chili educational platform offers healthcare professionals a solution that will enable them to virtually teleport themselves into an operating theatre, all for learning purposes.
An ideal training
New learning methods enable healthcare professionals to immerse themselves in a modeled environment. This will allow them to train and even perfect their skills. Using software, a medical student based in one country can try out a practice under the watchful eye of his or her tutor, who may be in another country.
The strength of this parallel world lies in its ability to isolate and multiply reality. Thanks to a virtual learning path, it becomes possible for anyone to grasp the full range of care scenarios, based on shared knowledge. The effectiveness of this approach has been proven to be superior to the real-life practice.
What’s more, uses are less complex: space-time and hygiene constraints are no longer an issue. All this is erased in favor of an ideal environment.
Transforming the patient’s journey
We’ve all heard of, and even used, teleconsultation. The Covid crisis put the spotlight on this practice. But Metaverse intends to take the dematerialization of appointments even further. Virtual clinics can offer patients a range of therapies and solutions. The implementation of this virtual world would enable patients to be tracked throughout their entire course of treatment.
Pathologies such as phobias, stress, addiction or eating disorders could be treated remotely, thanks to immersion in a virtual medical space. Metaverse provides an effective framework for pain relief and rehabilitation, both mental and physical.
The future of surgery
One of the main applications is the collaboration, within a virtual block, of several professionals from different locations: a French surgeon with an American anesthetist, for example.
It also uses digital twin technology to enable experiments to be carried out in real-life conditions, without harming patients: conducting complex studies, testing new protocols, or performing surgical operations directly in the Metaverse – the opportunities are numerous. This will enable the human body to be explored in a level of detail rarely achieved.
More than just a trend, the medical metaverse is brimming with opportunities to rethink modern medicine. But there are ethical, economic, and technical limits.