Author: Prof. K. Ganapathy
Hon Distinguished Professor The Tamilnadu Dr MGR Medical University; Emeritus Professor, National Academy of Medical Sciences; Past President, Telemedicine Society of India & Neurological Society of India; Director Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation & Apollo Tele Health Services, India
Introduction: Metaverse is the augmented virtual world formed by convergence of virtual and physical space. Users interact within this created world, meeting each other virtually, immersing themselves in performing virtual activities, which subsequently could lead to real experiences. Conventionally, the healthcare “industry” is conservative in deploying future ready technology.
Aims and Objectives: This overview discusses the untapped potential of metaverse applications in healthcare from a clinician’s perspective. Bereft of technical jargon, the article points out the advantages, disadvantages, limitations, and challenges in actual deployment of the metaverse in clinical practice in the real world. The exponential transformation occurring in this area is highlighted. The highly technical literature is simplified for easier comprehension.
Findings: Clinical applications, use of the metaverse in training, education, and augmenting telehealth consultations, in an immersive milieu, is discussed. Direct “in-person” interaction with digital products and solutions will be a new experience for a healthcare provider and the beneficiary. The role of digital twins is illustrated. Consultation process and various clinical applications in the metaverse are outlined. Technology‑enabled futuristic training and education is discussed.
Conclusion: Demonstrating significant improvement in healthcare outcomes using the metaverse will be difficult to prove. This alone will ultimately lead to the development of a business model, insurance reimbursement and behavioral modification necessary for accepting and using, a hitherto unused method in patient care.
Keywords: Augmented reality and healthcare, blockchain and healthcare, metaverse and healthcare, virtual reality and healthcare
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