It is likely that you’ve heard of the metaverse in recent news. Defined as three-dimensional spaces for users to interact, grasp new concepts, work together, and have fun, the metaverse is coming and will have the power to transform the face of healthcare. Traditionally, healthcare has been built upon the physical, face-to-face interaction between a provider and patient. However, the emergence of telemedicine and virtual visits has validated that a patient-provider relationship can exist and thrive through digital means via the internet. The idea of the metaverse builds further upon digital health solutions and predicts the use of both AR and VR technology to offer yet another platform to deliver care.
The recent media buzz has practices beginning to consider how they will address the healthcare metaverse. It’s been said that in addition to improving surgery, medical training, and telemedicine, the healthcare metaverse will also serve to introduce blockchain technology for front-desk transactions. This incorporation could make blockchain and cryptocurrency another alternative to conventional payment options.
As more everyday trends and technology emerge, let’s explore more about what the healthcare metaverse is and the benefits the future may hold.
Discovering the Healthcare Metaverse
You are not alone if you’re wondering what the healthcare metaverse is or could be. The healthcare metaverse is an accessible digital world that uses augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and connectivity tools like 5G networks to provide virtual care, offer contactless payments, and create a space for a unified marketplace. Immersive, interactive, and experiential, the healthcare metaverse enhances capabilities associated with care as well as how patients will interact, adopt, and transact within it.
One of the most exciting offerings to come out of the healthcare metaverse is avatars. Tech Times reports “In a healthcare metaverse, an avatar captures a patient’s digital DNA and represents that patient in a virtual world ─ so if they have a diagnosis such as diabetes, their avatar will also have diabetes.” Today, submitting identifying information to multiple providers is a fragmented process, but with avatars being kept safe and following HIPAA compliance, this could potentially ensure data is unified and protected.
Three Things to Consider About the Healthcare Metaverse
1. VR and AR will change interactions even more, with telemedicine, digital twins, and wearables.
VR and AR are already present in the healthcare space. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these technologies have brought providers closer to patients, without the requirement of physical contact. Telemedicine allows patients and providers to be together, even when they are in different physical places. Now, 95% of healthcare facilities offer remote treatment to patients. Virtual reality available in the healthcare metaverse will open up many new possibilities for patients seeking remote care. Patients will have “be there” even less than they do now.
Digital twinning is another innovation that is poised to change the healthcare metaverse for the better. Forbes defines the term as “a virtual model, or simulation, of any object, process, or system, generated using real-world data, for the purpose of learning more about its real-world counterpart. In the case of the metaverse, the digital twin could be of the patient themself.” Digital twins will likely be used to predict surgical outcomes, assist in medical procedures, and anticipate medicinal reactions.
Wearables, like COPD monitors, can monitor patients’ conditions and gather advanced real-time data to make appointments more intuitive and less physical. These devices can be integrated with the metaverse for physicians to follow patients and act on emergencies.
2. Decentralized payment transactions are a promising new frontier.
The introduction of new technologies, such as cryptocurrency, blockchain, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), that decentralize financing for your patients may not be as far away as you think. In fact, these options will be built into the metaverse. For those that may be unaware of what these tools are, NFTs are certificates of ownership for digital items and cryptocurrency is digital money that is recorded on a public ledger called blockchain. While embracing these types of transactions is at the discretion of your organization, you may find patients that want to jump on board sooner rather than later.
These forms of transactions rely on anonymity to process, so it remains to be seen how healthcare will use them in a way that can link their patients to payment transactions. We predict that a workaround is not far off from inception.
3. Privacy considerations will be a hurdle.
While the metaverse emphasizes meaningful connections and is committed to safeguarding participants’ privacy, their actual tactics for privacy protection remain unclear. Healthcare organizations need to access identifiable patient information, whether payment, contact, or medical information. The fix for this challenge could be for patients to temporarily transmit their identifying information to their providers and regain their privacy back after the visit happens. In the metaverse, virtual reality headsets will be able to collect more data from patients than traditional methods, but this process will be dependent upon regulation.
The introduction, adoption, and utilization of the healthcare metaverse will happen over time. In whatever way your organization decides to address this phenomenon, it is important to note that early adopters of credit card payments 25 years ago and pre-pandemic digital payments were successful in delivering improved patient experiences and increasing cash flow. Whenever you’re ready to learn more about the healthcare metaverse, Rectangle Health will be here for you, guiding you through the next steps.
Navigate the Healthcare Metaverse With Us
Rectangle Health is here to wade into healthcare metaverse tide with you. With almost 30 years of experience, we’ve been here through transitions to credit-card readers and the internet with our Practice Management Bridge® software. We are here as your trusted partner to see you through new innovations in technology, like the healthcare metaverse, with solutions like Card on File, Text-to-Pay, and contactless capabilities. Let’s explore this innovation together! Whether you’re an enthusiast or want to take small steps, we are here to guide you and offer you unique customizations.
- Facebook. (n.d.) Connection is evolving and so are we. Facebook. Retrieved 3/7/2022, from https://about.meta.com/metaverse/
- Thompson, D. (2022, February 9). Metaverse and Healthcare: What’s in it for you. Tech Times. Retrieved 3/7/2022, from https://www.techtimes.com/articles/271630/20220209/metaverse-and-healthcare-what-s-in-it-for-you.htm
- Marr, B. (2022, February 23). The Amazing Possibilities of Healthcare in The Metaverse. Forbes. Retrieved 3/3/2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2022/02/23/the-amazing-possibilities-of-healthcare-in-the-metaverse/?sh=5551b8ba9e5c