By Harshit Jain, founder and global CEO, Doceree
There is a lot of buzz around the metaverse right now. Specifically, what the new technology means for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), virtual real estate and events — but what about opportunities beyond entertainment and finance? The metaverse presents the chance to use technology for good. The truth is, the healthcare industry is already using the metaverse to benefit healthcare professionals and patients.
For example, cloud gaming technology helps with physician training purposes — enabling doctors to practice difficult procedures remotely. Beyond training and using virtual reality (VR) for telehealth appointments, the metaverse provides untapped potential for improving patient communication technology and potentially enhancing marketing tactics helping to better reach busy healthcare practitioners (HCPs).
While industries across the board work through how exactly the metaverse will evolve and how it will be utilized — we are not that far off from the virtual world becoming more of a reality. While the opportunities are there, so are challenges especially as it relates to HCPs and how the metaverse could open up the virtual door to healthcare innovation. The good news? Leaders can use this innovation as a way to address and improve the challenges facing pharmaceutical marketing.
Metaverse in Medicine
The healthcare industry is no stranger to technological innovations. In fact, existing technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality and web 3.0 are already being applied to robotics for physician training and telehealth consultations. And that is a trend that will only increase in the coming years. A recent survey here on Capgemini found that 51% of BioPharma companies are planning to initiate AI-enabled predictive diagnostics in the next five years.
While improved patient care is the ultimate goal, there are also data and privacy implications that should be considered. The metaverse is built on blockchain technology. This means that transactions made use a digital universal payment method known as cryptocurrency maintained across several computers, which are tied back to a peer-to-peer network. Why is this important? Patient data is sensitive and there are many restrictions that must be followed in order to comply with HIPAA as stated here on the CDC site. That is not to say that the metaverse won’t be accessible for healthcare as appointments are already taking place digitally through telehealth technology.
Moving Towards the Metaverse
One of the most exciting opportunities about the metaverse is the necessary training it will give doctors for virtually practicing complicated surgeries. Since it would not be a real-life scenario — there is more room for error — ultimately providing stronger learnings. It also allows patients access to healthcare providers outside of their physical location. For example, someone in a rural area may not have access to an affordable physical therapist. Artificial Intelligence and the metaverse have the power to change that by providing more affordable options helping to reduce healthcare costs.
Additionally, the metaverse provides an opportunity for the healthcare industry to become more data-driven. Say a patient has access to portable healthcare gadgets since appointments with physicians would take place in a virtual world. This has the potential to increase the comfort level of doctor visits for the patient as visits can take place without ever leaving the house. If overall visits increase, there will be more critical patient data like blood pressure, helping to improve the overall diagnosis and treatment of health issues.
The metaverse may seem like a future reality but it is already happening. While many of the benefits of the metaverse will help improve education and training for future physicians, the opportunities stretch far beyond. Now is the time for healthcare leaders to ensure they are set up for digital transformation. A good starting place? Dive into telehealth and implement digital strategies to improve pharmaceutical marketing. Doing research now will ensure success when it comes time to step into the metaverse.