With numerous industries embracing AR and VR technologies as well as jumping aboard the much-hyped Metaverse, it may come as a surprise that healthcare, a space which seems primed to benefit greatly from associated innovations, has barely tipped its toes in the water in this area. It’s even more of a shock considering the rapid adoption of nascent technologies to drive use of telehealth, telepresence systems, remote diagnostics, predictive AI, and wearable technology in the pandemic-weary sector. It turns out that, much like in many other cases of shunning the Metaverse, this is simple dollars-and-cents decision-making.
The benefits and conveniences presented by metaverse tech could go so far as altogether reinventing healthcare approaches. The possibility of VR-hosted telemedicine consultations could bring equitable care access to its highest standard and help address geography-based care access gaps. Holoportation would give doctors a chance to inhabit the same virtual space as their patients, and they could also use the tech to fully examine patients through a 3D projection. Virtual pharmacies, which U.S. pharmacy chain CVS is bent on making a reality in the near future, would let patients have prescriptions picked up directly from the metaverse for their medications to then be delivered to their real-life homes.
High costs alone are not the only barrier to the healthcare industry’s glacial lean into metaverse technologies. Remote access to healthcare services in the expansive metaverse would depend on access to required equipment, and not all patients have had positive reactions to receiving online or remote forms of treatment. Moreover, incorporation of telemedicine and the building of virtual hospitals presents risks as to patient data confidentiality, requiring advances and often expensive security systems to be put in place.