Human medical error is sometimes unavoidable. Can the metaverse help healthcare professionals?
Medicine is one of the keys to human longevity. Even though we live in an exceptionally medically advanced world, there are still errors and unknown illnesses. To continue to improve accuracy, the medical field must implement more innovation and technology. An example of innovation is the metaverse. The virtual world can radically change the field when it comes to accuracy, education and even organizing consultation sessions. How can it do so? Let’s find out.
Increasing medical accuracy
Although medical advancement has been unprecedented, there are still chances of errors. In the U.S., such errors cause 251,000 deaths per year. The metaverse can be an innovative method to increase accuracy and prevent any human or unforeseeable mistakes.
Healthcare professionals can utilize digital twins in the metaverse to prevent patients from experiencing unwanted or unforeseeable reactions after receiving treatments. Digital twins are virtual replicas of the human body. They comprise human organs, an individual’s genetic makeup and lifestyle habits to create personalized treatment plans.
Individualized modeling is vital for accuracy since every person reacts to treatment differently due to their genetic compositions. Hence, using the metaverse to thoroughly analyze the patient’s body can help the doctor prescribe medications that can minimize the chance that the patient will experience undesirable health effects in real life.
Some medical centers have already deployed digital twins. At Linköping University in Sweden, there is a platform named Medical Digital Twin (MeDigiT) to facilitate the use of digital models in healthcare to predict the effect of medication. Hence, digital twins can help increase treatment accuracy and effectiveness by personalizing diagnosis and treatment.
Altering medical education
Medical education has also been using the metaverse to nurture future healthcare professionals. Because of the pressures of Covid-19, there is a need to train medical professionals rapidly. However, face-to-face education can promote disease transmission. The metaverse would be an innovative channel to educate students safely and effectively.
For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) has a state-of-the-art learning center named The Academy to provide augmented reality (AR) training on safely putting on and removing personal protective equipment (PPE). Putting on PPE is a daily task for professionals, and it appears to be easy.
However, there are steps that the professionals have to follow since incorrectly removing PPE can lead to infection or transmission of viruses. Thus, training via the metaverse can facilitate the effectiveness of the knowledge transmission and ensure the safety of the students and teachers.
Providing physical and real-time practice is also essential for students. Real-time training goes beyond theories and can bridge the gap between studying at nursing school and providing real-life care. An example of real-time practice would be the MetaMedicsVR platform, which provides a 3D virtual simulation for healthcare workers to practice a variety of procedures and protocols.
The system also has an evaluation system, which shows the performance quality in procedures. Furthermore, healthcare workers can also practice soft skills, such as how to deliver bad news to patients and their families. Hence, the metaverse can be a convenient and real-time platform to enhance training to help students adapt to real-world situations.
Changing the treatment process
The metaverse can also change the way professionals prescribe treatment. The metaverse can also be a treatment for the patients. An example would be RelieVRx, an FDA-authorized at-home VR pain treatment platform targeted at chronic lower back pain (CLBP). The platform has an eight-week program to guide the patients through various pain management techniques, such as pain distraction, relaxation and behavior modification, which can help reduce the patient’s pain. After the treatment, the patients will develop skills for relieving their pain in the long run. Compared to the traditional way of curing CLBP, such as physical therapy or injection-based treatments, the metaverse has introduced a virtual way to treat CLBP.
Not only can the metaverse help with physical health problems but also mental health. The traditional method of coping with mental health issues may include visiting a psychiatrist or therapist. Now, metaverse alternatives to these in-person consultations have been introduced, and one of them is Viva Vita, a VR platform aimed to support the mental well-being of seniors. The virtual platform provides seniors a chance to reconnenct with the world though virtual tours.
Upon retirement, many seniors struggle with loneliness and lack of life purpose or even late-life depression or axiety. By going on VR virtual tours to scenic places that they have not visited before. With the virtual tours, the seniors can uncover a new environment and engage with the senior community in the comfort of their homes. The platform has been proven to usher in a sense of relaxation. While this is just one example, it reveals the potential for the metaverse to introduce other ways to maintain the public’s mental health.
The metaverse is currently inducing a radical change in the medical field. It can increase treatment accuracy and facilitate training during a global pandemic. Let’s hope that innovation and technology will continue to bring positive impacts.
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