Health in the metaverse: Real medicine in a digital world

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Real medicine in a digital world has been one of the main topics of the I Congress on health in the metaverse, organized by Metaverse Hospital. The new virtual reality applied to health has already opened up a multitude of unknowns, but it has also raised many possibilities for the present and future. This has been indicated on the day Leyre Martin, Responsible for the Medical Management of Hospital Metaverso; Sarah Martinez, CEOand Jose Martinez Olmos, Head of Institutional Relations. Without a doubt, the metaverse, the blockchaincrypto assets, NFTs… open up a world of possibilities and opportunities in the health environment.

The organizers have commented that the metaverse is opening up virtual health care options with an interaction that can allow scientific evidence and artificial intelligence to be used in a special way in the care process. This world linked to immersive experiences also allows a much more “real” interaction with other professionals and hospital services different from the one where the patient and the care team are located.

As the meeting has made clear, the metaverse is the product of technology-driven change, with widespread impact through persistent and adaptive digital experiences. The metaverse may be the next generation of the internet. It will combine the physical and digital worlds in an immersive way. As for the use cases, health care and education stand out, among others.

health in the metaverse

Participated in the meeting Carmen Vicente, managing director of the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Zaragoza and member of the board of directors of SEDISA. And it is that this health center, during the pandemic, launched what is considered the first foray into the metaverse of a hospital in Spain. In his opinion, the key is in coexistence. Coexist presence in Health, since it is important not to lose contact with healthcare personnel, with this virtual world, which, without a doubt, will bring the hospital and its professionals closer to the homes of patients and relatives.

Francisco Jose Garciadirector of the master’s degree in innovation in digital health at UCM, and arming romansdirector at IAVANTE, were in charge of addressing the training of health professionals in the metaverse.

precision training

In addition to simulators and immersive training, the possibilities that artificial intelligence offers to achieve more effective training systems. “We are moving towards precision training, just as Precision Medicine already exists”, commented Armando Romanos.

In addition, the field that opens the metaverse in the socialization of learning and the knowledge gap was addressed. And, in this sense, the importance of creating socialization environments was pointed out. In them, students can horizontally share knowledge and needs with their peers with vertical tutoring. Ultimately, a training of follow up.

And what about bioresearch?

Cesar Hernandez, general director of the Basic Portfolio and Pharmacy of the Ministry of Health, pointed out, regarding the area of ​​drug regulation, the possibilities that are opened for regulatory agencies to share information. And he pointed out the influence that metaverse and bheockchain could have on the usefulness of drugs throughout their life cycle, measuring their usefulness in real life in order to make decisions about clinical use and adjust healthcare interventions.

In this sense, it was highlighted what it could mean for Spain, which is a world leader in clinical trials. Both César Hernández and the other speaker, Sara Martínez, manager of IA hospitals in Savana, highlighted the possibilities offered by the decentralization of such clinical trials. Among other benefits, they highlighted the recruitment of patients around the world and the analysis of data in record time. Without forgetting what this new technology would facilitate, to the regulatory part, to which many resources are dedicated. With digital identities by ethics committees, the use of smart contracts… that would streamline practice in research studies. “Everything will allow a faster transfer of research, of knowledge.”

Health managers in the metaverse

To talk about health managers in the metaverse, Martínez Olmos gave way to Jaime del Barrio, president of the Digital Health Association (ASD), and Candle Street, of the Board of Directors of Sedisa and general director of the San Francisco de Asís Foundation.

“Virtual, but real”, commented Jaime del Barrio. “The only thing that is changing is the way we relate to each other, the way we move.” The metaverse is the conjunction and the vital space that we enter with real situations looking for solutions that are also real. One of the advantages is that it allows anticipation, being proactive and promoting prevention. “This is not a fad, but rather we are experiencing a change of era in relation to the approach to Medicine”, he added.

For her part, Candela Calle recalled that it is currently necessary to “ensure the sustainability of the system. And it must be done from all points of view, including economic, environmental, but also social”. The pandemic, in her opinion, has put the three key management objectives on the table. These are: improving the patient experience, optimizing clinical outcomes and reducing costs.

“I am a great defender of network models, something that I have successfully tested in the field of Oncology. This system also makes it possible to establish a much closer relationship between regional and tertiary hospitals”, said Candela Calle. “Likewise, the metaverse environment can respond to the portfolio of services in a much easier and more comfortable way for the different profiles of professionals.”

Candela Calle has included professionals, as well as patients, among the system’s “engines of change”. “If I wanted to incorporate something of the metaverse in my institution, I would try to listen to patients and professionals”, she has commented.

Humanization in the digital environment

Precisely the voice of the patients has been represented by Patricia Ripoll in the table titled ‘Is the humanization of health care possible in the metaverse? They have also intervened Joan Carlos March, co-director of the School for Patients, of the Andalusian School of Public Health, and Julio Zarco, president of the Humans Foundation.

A report has predicted that the global metaverse market focused on the health and healthcare industry was valued in 2021 at five billion dollars. That amount will exceed 71 billion in 2030. However, “there will be few metaverse projects that will have a real application”, said Patricia Ripoll.

Another survey published by the Spanish Patient Forum indicated that more than 90% of patients consider that digital solutions improve the care offered in hospitals. In any case, patients ask health professionals for “more fluid” communication, as well as a “more humanistic” approach.

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