Moving beyond adoption of digital technologies, healthcare entities ranging from hospitals chains to fitness companies are now entering into the metaverse space.
The metaverse is a combination of physical, augmented, and virtual reality. Accessed via the Internet, metaverse creates a virtual world experience. In a metaverse, human emotions and gestures can be simulated. The metaverse includes the whole social and economic structure existing in both the actual and virtual worlds.
The latest entrant is Yashoda Hospitals Group from Hyderabad that has acquired a parcel of land on Decentraland, a popular metaverse platform, and has set up an experience zone to mark the 30 years of healthcare service it has offered to the people.
When asked that why are the healthcare chains exploring metaverse, Dr. Abhinav Gorukanti, Director of Yashoda Hospitals, emphasised that it is a new technology and companies want to be early adopters. “There are benefits of blockchain and decentralised data ecosystem as well,” said Gorukanti.
Recently Apollo Hospitals Group also collaborated with 8chili Inc to enable engagement in the metaverse. The company said that it will engage the users in virtual reality-mediated activities to empower their abilities to regulate emotion. This personalized approach to every patient will help result in higher patient satisfaction, Apollo said.
Similarly, GOQii a smart tech-enabled healthcare platform announced that it will launch Health Metaverse in partnership with Animoca Brands. Animoca Brands is a global player in gamification and blockchain with portfolio of over 170 investments in non-fungible token (NFT) related companies and decentralized projects contributing to building the open metaverse.
A 2022 KPMG report pointed out that the use of the metaverse in healthcare can be revolutionary by being instrumental in bringing the patient and healthcare provider closer to each other in times of need.
“This technology can help remotely located patients get the right care, right diagnosis, receive medical treatment, or assistance in medical procedures from the experts sitting in different geographies in real-time and during the golden hours,” said the report which also listed metaverse as one of the important technologies in the future.
“Not just healthcare, it’ll help all industries. Metaverse will be mode of online interaction in the future. For healthcare it’ll enhance the experience for telemedicine, medical education, etc.,” Gorukanti said, adding that it gives newer services, newer model for service delivery and payment and expands the serviceable area to a wider, global audience.
The KPMG report also said that metaverse can empower technicians to solve problems more efficiently using virtual and augmented reality by collaborating from different locations, with one goal of providing treatment to the patient.
Paras Healthcare, another domestic Indian hospital chain, is planning to adopt the technology.
“We will implement this innovative technology within our healthcare delivery model. However, to effectively use this cutting-edge technology, it would be important for us to identify the channels and platforms customers are using, the support they require and how it can serve an unmet need,” said Vineet Agarwal, CIO, Paras Healthcare.
“Metaverse can help healthcare companies augment their Digital Roadmaps by bringing a more personalised care to its patients and where the patients are. Additionally, with help of augmented reality and virtual reality, brands can reach out to healthcare professionals across the world. Together, also they can create new channels to deliver care that can significantly lower costs and improve patient outcomes,” he said.
According to InsightAce Analytic, the global metaverse healthcare market was valued at $5.06 billion in 2021, and is expected to reach $71.97 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 34.8 per cent during the forecast period.
Public health experts believe that while much has been said about potential of metaverse in the entertainment and gaming industry, healthcare is another industry where its impact could be transformational.
“Covid 19 has already upped the patient engagements through Telemedicine (before 2020 it was at 43 per cent and now stands at 95 per cent) and medical staff (both doctors and nurses) have found that they are able to more quickly and efficiently diagnose minor conditions that form a majority of their caseload. This will undoubtedly persist in metaverse and VR with its immersive experience, opens up whole new possibilities, with a far greater sense of “being there”,” said Agarwal.
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