2020 etched itself into history for many wrong reasons. But June 8th, 2020, became a historic day for the medical community in all of the right ways. Neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins University performed the world’s first Augmented Reality procedure.
The surgery entailed fusing three vertebrae to eliminate the patient’s chronic back pain. They performed another surgery to remove a tumor from the patient’s spine two days later.
These procedures were not only successful, but they also proved the effectiveness of the Metaverse in the field of healthcare. And the $4.1 trillion healthcare industry stands to gain a lot from it.
However, it is crucial to understand what Metaverse is before delving into its impact. Let’s dive in to understand this incredible new technological universe and its diverse applications in the medical industry.
What is the Metaverse?
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The Metaverse idea has been frequently debated in recent times. It is essentially the internet accessed through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets with Artificial Intelligence support.
Regarded as the next mobile computing platform, it is projected to become one of the most extensively utilized tech inventions in the future.
Big technology firms such as Meta and Microsoft have already affirmed how Metaverse has the potential to change the world. It remains to be seen how this technology develops. However, a few industries are already embracing some critical components that will eventually form the Metaverse. Healthcare and medicine are one of them.
From telemedicine and consultation to surgery and medical training, every aspect leverages Metaverse and its varied offerings.
Application of the Metaverse in the Healthcare Sphere
The Metaverse has the potential to open up whole new channels for treating patients, improving training, and significantly bettering patient outcomes in medicine. Let us glance at some of its components that stand to impact healthcare.
1. Safer, More Informed Surgical Operations
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Currently, surgeons employ technology such as augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and minimally invasive surgery to improve patient outcomes. Leading medical institutions employ these technologies to obtain a 3D image of a patient’s body during surgery. It aids in the assessment, planning, and execution of operations.
However, VR and AR present specific technological difficulties in the healthcare area.
Among these challenges include:
- Construction of convincing physical objects and surgical interfaces
- Depicting interactions between objects
- Processing signals for complex situations during surgery
Additionally, VR systems are restricted to only certain medical settings. Furthermore, device resolution and computer specs are limiting factors for medical institutions.
The use of the Metaverse can overcome these obstacles. It can provide space for genuine interaction between doctor and patient. As a result, it can make it easier to explain surgical procedures to patients, including any potential complications.
2. Treatment of Mental Health Disorders
Metaverse can also help treat various brain disorders that cause mental health issues. These issues include phobias, PTSD, anxiety disorders, delusions, and hallucinations.
Metaverse provides an interactive framework that offers the following:
- A forum for online treatment,
- Enhances access to mental healthcare for those with disabilities
- A simulation of real-life
Individuals suffering from phobias, anxiety, addiction, disordered eating, psychosis, and other issues might benefit from the use of therapeutic styles available in the Metaverse.
Dr Daria Kuss, the Lead for the Cyberpsychology Research Group at Trent Nottingham University, confirms this. She states, “We know that particular psychotherapy formats, notably virtual reality exposure therapy, can be fantastic tools to help individuals affected by a variety of phobias, depression, psychosis, addiction, eating disorders as well as post-traumatic stress disorder by gradually exposing them to the triggering, feared, or trauma-producing stimulus in a safe space (like the virtual environment).”
3. Medical Training for Students in Medicine
In medical education and training, institutions would use Metaverse to create an augmented reality area to explore human anatomy in a laboratory setting.
This new environment could provide opportunities for:
- New experiences within medicine
- Better engagement
- 360-degree view of the human anatomy
VR is currently being used at a smaller scale to educate doctors and medical professionals by simulating real-world surgeries and presenting cellular-level human anatomy data.
In addition, VR is also finding a place in medical curriculums. In fact, Novarad Corp., a medical imaging software firm, announced the release of its augmented reality (AR) software for higher education.
Metaverse would allow for a combination of both to provide optimum outcomes. Medical professors will be able to utilize this technology to assist students in resolving problems and completing projects while offering a collaborative and innovative learning environment.
4. Smoother Collaboration Among Medical Professionals for Patient Care
The potential to instantly share information across healthcare specialists would speed up the diagnosis of underlying causes of sickness, especially rarer ones. Furthermore, monitoring patient activities in the Metaverse will also simplify tracking variables such as compliance.
Clinicians will be capable of offering more integrated treatment programs, free of the bottlenecks that plague the current healthcare system.
These technology-based solutions are already improving patient outcomes and experiences. With such significant investments in med-tech towards the Metaverse and an increasing number of entrepreneurs developing AR and VR solutions, a radical transformation in medicine is inevitable.
The Road Ahead
The idea of the Metaverse brings with it overflowing possibilities and a chance at radical improvement within medicine. Surgeries can become much safer, and patients will be better informed about their choices.
Moreover, one of the more stigmatized areas of medicine, mental health, will find respite from secrecy. In fact, it might just allow people to find a safe space within the virtual simulation to heal themselves. In addition, medical training will find more creative and exciting avenues to impart learning to students.
Most importantly, better collaborations will allow for an enhanced patient experience and a departure from a battered medical system.
The Metaverse is obviously the next revolutionary integration in healthcare. But it will be a few years before it is actively employed in hospitals or medical institutions. Further research is necessary to iron out existing quirks in the technologies that it incorporates. Furthermore, security remains a significant shortcoming of the overall network.
Nonetheless, once these challenges are resolved, the Metaverse has the potential to transform the medical industry completely.
Author Bio: Alexandra Whitt works as a brand and marketing specialist at MedicoReach. She has been working in the b2b industry for the past two years. She empowers the marketers by sharing valuable information across different verticals such as healthcare, technology, marketing, etc.