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The metaverse & patient care: What should we actually expect? 

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The word “metaverse” has jumped out of science fiction and into real life without much prior warning – and, love it or loathe it, its potential in healthcare is vast. But what changes should we actually expect? And when?

A quick look online and it’s clear that work is already being done to normalise the metaverse – in healthcare, in medical training, in schools, and in general. The idea that the “impact will be real” despite its whole existence being a transition into a virtual world may sound a little strange at first. 

However, looking at the possibilities for the metaverse and patient healthcare, and comparing them to the desperate situation health systems are in today, we may need to give this brave new world a chance. 

Access to services a “slow progress”

Anthony Magee, Director of Data and Experience Technology, SYZYGY, said that in terms of clinical provision, greater access to services through digital devices has been making “slow progress” for some time.

He added: “App-fuelled access to GPs and virtual appointments have become much more widespread during rolling sets of lockdowns, as access to stretched public health and medical services came under further strain.

“Of course, this was no replacement for some medical services, but it accelerated widespread access to virtual appointments due to pure necessity.

“From one perspective, the potential of the metaverse for healthcare is just further travels along this path. VR is already integrated into the training of medical and surgery staff when it comes to training on anatomy, for example.”

Modern problems, modern solutions

Dr Efosa Uwubamwen, medical doctor & co-founder of Wellvrse, pointed out that “crippling” effects of a struggling NHS are just one reason we should be open to drastic, and virtual, changes.

He said: “It’s clear to anybody paying attention that the NHS, and mental health services in particular, are desperately struggling to meet rapidly growing demand. 

“The effects on an individual level are crippling – people aren’t getting access to the services they need, but these problems don’t disappear, they compound and worsen over time into even more debilitating conditions.

“The wider results socially and economically are devastating – poor mental health is estimated to cost the UK £118 billion yearly, almost matching the entire healthcare budget.

He added: “Modern problems require modern solutions, and the last decade of advancement in digital health has opened up a world of opportunity.”

How will the metaverse transform healthcare?

Dr Uwubamwen continued: “The building blocks that make up the metaverse, and particularly virtual/augmented reality have the potential to revolutionise healthcare in a number of aspects, but perhaps the most exciting are the training capabilities. 

“These technologies allow highly specialised procedures to not only be practiced in a risk-free environment, but also assisted and guided by specialists from across the globe. 

“This democratisation of training paves the way for an incredibly high standard of care to be made much more widely available, benefiting patients worldwide.”

Collaborating between health tech and healthcare 

We can expect huge leaps in patient care through the collaboration between technology and health. AI diagnostics is just one example of this, as such tech has already made its mark in cancer diagnosis amongst other areas. 

There is also expected to be next-level hands-on training for surgeons who can practise in the metaverse before ever trying on a real person.

“Virtual training is already a reality in some hospitals, but the sophistication and capabilities within this are expected to surge as the metaverse becomes more commonplace. 

Aside from this, there are high hopes for virtual consultations in bringing down NHS waiting lists, and allowing patients access to professionals faster and more efficiently, with AI intervention where possible.

The healthcare revolution is coming 

In short, the healthcare revolution is said to be on its way. We are fast approaching the time that the tech is ready. The question is, are you?

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