Healthcare in Metaverse?
Real health in a digital universe
Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, digital solutions to health issues have gained more attention than ever before. Science likes to look beyond previous limits of digital possibilities. The metaverse started to play an important role in that. But can we really capture every area of society in the digital universe?
No area of our society is unaffected by technological change — including healthcare. If you look at the market, there are more and more solutions that deal with the digitization of health. The potential is great — but are users and patients ready for it?
In a representative online survey by YouGov (2022), people from Germany were asked about their attitudes towards health technologies:
- Almost every third 18–24 year old uses apps for health optimisation.
- One in four wears smart technologies (wearables) to measure health data.
- Those affected by chronic diseases would like better apps to track their data.
- Provided data security is guaranteed, two-thirds would send this data to their GP.
- However, the metaverse is an unknown term for most.
Now, that was unexpected. After all, the metaverse has been the talk of the town, especially in the startup scene? Well, apparently we have to step out of our bubble more often …
What makes the metaverse so special?
Put on your VR goggles and headphones and you’re off into the digital parallel world! Here, there are no limits to the imagination — and its realisation. A joint walk on the moon or in the Sahara with a friend who lives in another country? Everything is possible! However, this world has great potential not only for leisure activities, but also for companies: developing simulations of city construction or the training of pilots on a virtual flight, the metaverse is opening up a lot of new doors.
The role of metaverse for the health sector
Also in the healthcare industry, the metaverse is creating new opportunities: Virtual appointment bookings, quick consultations and early diagnosis through smart devices are conceivable in the meta-universe. Operations can be planned more precisely through simulations, and there is a lower risk of complications. Subsequent virtual cures and physiotherapy meetings help with rehabilitation — without having to wait forever for free places.
But it does not only have positive sides from a health point of view: One danger in the metaverse is social isolation. Human-to-human contact is replaced by artificial avatars. The connection to reality is lost as users become accustomed to impossibilities that do not exist in reality.
Previous experiments also revealed a big problem with harassment and bullying of avatars in the metaverse, as attackers often remain anonymous. For healthcare, this is relevant as patients need to feel they are being taken care of before, during and after treatment in order to be able to open up. On the other side, medical staff must also be protected in order to circumvent attacks.
Metaverse — The Future of Healthcare?
Whether the metaverse will actually develop into a second home for us humans or rather offer a way to escape from everyday life now and then remains open. One thing is clear, however: the future of healthcare requires more and more integration of different technologies.
SQIN, as a healthtech company, shows how this can work effectively: The AI for skin recognition and the virtual dermatologist consultation support the existing system to make experts accessible to everyone, regardless of location and time.
So we can learn quite a bit from the metaverse — but the metaverse itself also has some learning to do.